New CTO Joshua Nelson will build on experience, vision

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SMH announced this month the hire of Joshua Nelson as Chief Technology Officer, to oversee the organization’s implementation of technology platforms to streamline operations, enhance medical record keeping and to make it more competitive in the marketplace.

In his role, he will direct a department of 15 professionals in two departments: Business Applications and Technology Support. This will include implementation of new systems and managing the organization’s technology infrastructure. Nelson, a Seattle native, has always been around technology and began his fascination with computers from an early age.

“I got into it very young,” Nelson recalls, “I would sell the parts and products that made computers, before you could even buy them off the shelf. I began building Web sites very early.”

His early interest in computer systems and the products that compose them would inspire his career choices, ultimately leading him to various IT jobs in education, the legal industry and health care, which included Swedish Hospital’s Cherry Hill campus in Seattle. Nelson notes that his experience as Technical Integration Manager there “directly applies” to his new position at SMH.

“It was a large system. You had a clinical side and an administrative side,” he points out. “I worked with the Vice President of Service Lines discovering how best to use technology for the doctors, patients, and administrators, and creating a process to implement the system. It was like a mini-MBA!”

Nelson will be instrumental in completing the implementation of its electronic medical records system, myAvatar from Netsmart Technologies. With behavioral health integration being a key strategic initiative for SMH, this is a key investment that Nelson considers a priority.

His first three months will be dedicated to getting to know his staff, learning more about the programs and services at SMH, and initiating the process of mapping out what technologies services will be needed today and in the future here at SMH.

Priding himself on being well-organized, Nelson sees his role here at SMH as threefold: to provide general support, oversee implementation of technological products and processes, and create options for innovation.

“How can SMH deploy technological structures and processes to best support our clients and clinicians?” he asks.

Noting that technology can be remarkably central to driving the behavioral health industry – from database programs and tele-health systems to demographics-based solutions – Nelson brings the same energy to his role that initiated his career in those early days.

“If [SMH President & CEO] Patrick Evans wants innovation, it can be done!”