The science of caring: doctoral student uses data to prioritize, create processes for better health

Doctoral student Rayne Soriano, above middle, demonstrates how health professionals, including nurses, physicians and technicians, can apply technology to improve health-care delivery.

Rayne Soriano, nurse and doctoral student at the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis, immerses himself in patient data — from fall rates to the number of hospital acquired infections — which he analyzes to improve quality through updated hospital procedures or staff and resource changes. He also educates nurse managers in the field of health informatics.

“I love being a nurse, but I also love the technology — taking care of people through all methods. My work improves the way we interact with patients and deliver quality care,” Soriano said.

Soriano began his career in the emergency department where he learned the value of data — its capacity to help nurses and nurse managers prioritize and address problems. As he moved quickly through the ranks at Kaiser Permanente, one of the state’s largest health systems, Soriano led a team that introduced the use of a hospital-wide electronic health record system. The system helps provide better coordination of care by allowing health professionals, like Soriano, to observe trends to maximize patient safety and quality of care.

As part of Soriano’s research toward his Nursing Science and Health-Care Leadership doctoral degree, he examines a nurse manager’s role in leveraging technology to improve patient care. He found a gap in information of how nurse managers utilize these systems.

“How are nurse managers using data to allocate resources and get a pulse on the quality and safety of care?” Soriano asked. “If we get people inspired to use technology, and design it well, we can utilize the systems to build better outcomes. “

According to Soriano, hospitals operate much like an airport. He compares the role of a nurse manager at a hospital to an airport’s air traffic controller: each manages a complex network of activities ensuring people’s safety. Nurse managers manipulate schedules, coach other nurses and engage employees and patients to assure an environment of safety. He said more nurse leaders are needed with the ability to take action beyond the input and review of data. Nurse leaders must also use that data as a tool to improve patient outcomes including fall rates, infections and bed sores.

During the initial stages of implementation of the electronic health record system at his workplace, Soriano prepared staff on how to use the new system while observing how it is utilized by health-care providers. In doing so, Soriano discovered his passion for teaching.

Once Soriano graduates, he plans to teach at the university level. He wants to guide new graduates, the way he was guided by his professors, that people do come first and technology can be integrated into their lives to improve their health.

“The value of going back to school is to get the skills to use on a grander scale. My contribution is to put it all together – compassion, empathy and technology – to improve the way care is delivered,” Soriano said. “At the end of the day, what I really want to do is influence the future of the nursing profession as part of a coordinated team.”

Soriano’s graduate study is supported in part through the founding grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.