Ep 19: Maggie Lohnes: From Hospital Administration to Entrepreneur

In this episode, we had a great conversation with Maggie Lohnes, Founder of Sound Informatics. After a long and strong career in Healthcare IT, she successfully started her own company.  

Maggie calls herself a lifelong nurse. When she was a kid, she always knew she wanted to be a nurse so she went to nursing school straight out of high school, and specialized in critical care.

“I also knew I was attracted to machines and technology. I had the informatic bug from the beginning,” she said.

After working for 8 years as a critical care nurse, she was chosen to be a subject matter expert for the first electronic healthcare implementation. Maggie reminisces about the era when nurses were using punchcards, and how technology helped to change that. Maggie took time off to have children, and when she went back into it she was drawn to Nursing Informatics. She  was hired and created one of the first roles for Nursing Informations at Huntington Hospital. At the time, no one really knew what nursing informatics was, but Maggie decided she wanted to find out. She soon moved to a management role and spent 15 years at Huntington, where she eventually became an information systems manager.

“This was back in the day when we had cobol programmers, pre Y2K,” she said. Maggie managed the team working on that, which was a challenge. Maggie said she observed, first hand, how important it was for nurses to work with engineers to improve critical care.  Later, she moved to Washington State and was hired as an administrator at a 5 hospital, 200 physician health system.

Throughout her career journey, she participated in HIMMS, the Healthcare and Information Management Systems Society, as a leader for one of the local networks. At one point she was chair of the national policy committee, during the time when meaningful use legislation under the Bush Administration was being enacted to spur electronic records. She worked for two years at the Meider corporation, a think tank that works with the federal government, and then moved to giant health care software provider: McKesson.  Eventually, Maggie took a risk and started Sound Informatics to offer sound advices and services to organizations.

Maggie shared with us how she worked with engineers, and learned to translate engineering models and frameworks to healthcare models and frameworks. For example, she found comparisons between the body and the computer. The pituitary gland can be compared to the CPU while a brain can be similar to a hard drive. With her clinical background, Maggie could see connections from both worlds that helped her during her career. Persistence and confidence also helped Maggie grow as a leader.

Challenges always come during our divas’ careers, and Maggie shared with us how she overcame her biggest challenge of learning how to manage a team of engineers for the first time. Eventually, they became a cohesive unit, and friends. Other advice she offers:

  • Don’t sugar coat reality with your team

  • Share as much as you can with your team

  • Help everyone grow in their careers

  • It’s okay to say you don’t know something

If you want to contact Maggie, feel free to email her Maggie.Lohnes@soundinformatics.com.

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