Spotlight: Using IT to Improve Patient Care – UCSF’s Erik Wieland

By Alison Spencer, UCB student intern, UCOP.  There’s a saying among IT staff at UCSF: “I cure cancer – very indirectly.” Erik Wieland, an application manager, said this attitude is his favorite thing about working at the campus. “I love the mission of UCSF. The whole point of being here is discovering cures, training doctors, and helping people,” said Wieland. 

 Wieland maintains systems that help doctors manage patient care. For example, dermatologists use the patient records system to store and access photos of moles and rashes taken over time. Through computer analysis they can observe subtle changes and thus make more precise diagnoses and prescribe better treatment. Applications can help doctors optimize timing for transplants and biopsies and monitor how wounds heal. The possibilities are endless; the value of IT to patient care enormous.  

With so much patient data being collected in the process, Wieland and his colleagues place a major emphasis on ensuring privacy. “There’s a lot of security consciousness,” Wieland said. He recently managed UCSF’s Secure Box implementation to safely store patient data.  

Wieland has also taken on exciting projects such as running the UC Computing Services Conference 2014, which was held at UCSF. “One of the best things about where I am in my career is that I have a good enough track record that I get to participate in a lot of interesting projects every day,” Wieland said. 

Recently, he and Andrés Elenes created the UCSF IT Development and Mentorship Program. In addition to learning about how IT supports the mission, and meeting one-on-one with a mentor, the mentees created solutions to IT problems. In groups of four, participants had the chance to develop an idea and compete for IT governance for funding. “It’s a great opportunity for people to learn about the organization and how technology supports the mission. People can start to see themselves as leaders,” said Wieland.  

His ties to the Bay Area go beyond his nineteen years at UCSF. He earned two undergraduate and one master’s degree from Stanford. Today, he helps Stanford undergraduates develop their own leadership skills as a volunteer mentor. He also enjoys hiking and bird watching in the East Bay hills. 

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