Leading with data, maintaining focus on people

When Rayne Soriano began working as an emergency department nurse 20 years ago, he spent more time interacting with patients and families face-to-face, than staring at a computer screen entering vitals and data. Nurses used paper and Post-It notes, before turning to a keyboards and a mouse.

Two decades later, this informatics nurse uses the skills he developed in his doctoral program at the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis and data from millions of patients to see the big picture on how to improve care.

In a newly created position at Kaiser Permanente, Soriano serves as regional director for Medicare operations and clinical effectiveness, overseeing 16 Medicare directors in 21 hospitals across Northern California. He leads the team on initiatives ranging from hospital quality, pharmacy medication management, care transitions and end-of-life care. By engaging with physician colleagues, he seeks to understand how they process patient care data. By partnering with local leadership teams, he ensures Kaiser’s Medicare strategy work is effectively implemented in each service area across the region. By bringing his nursing background into every interaction, he serves as an ambassador for the patient care.

“We must raise our game when it comes to the use of technology and data,” says Soriano, a 2015 graduate of the Nursing Science and Health-Care Leadership Doctor of Philosophy program. “My world changed from studying systems to gather data to how to apply the knowledge gained from data to convince health care leaders we need to change how we do things.”

Soriano has extensive experience in nursing informatics, clinical operations, management, clinical education, electronic health record design, implementation, optimization and training. But at the heart of the numbers are people.

“Our product is not widgets, it is people,” Soriano says. “We can’t simply lead only with the data. We need to understand the stories behind the data. Then we can shift the paradigm and meet people across the continuum of their lives. Instead of waiting for people to come to us when they deem they need health care, we must be able to connect to reality of their lives once they walk out of our doors.”

Diane Brown, Kaiser’s regional executive director for Medicare strategy and operations in the Northern California region, says Soriano leads through influence and successfully assesses and adapts to the different cultures across the medical centers with whom he works.

“Whether it’s a senior vice president or a front line admitting clerk, Rayne must assess who he’s working with, help people understand their value in these initiatives, and interpret how their role improves services for the patients and members we serve,” Brown says. “His exuberance and ability to connect with people across disciplines and across cultures make him a great fit in facilitating role development for his staff and assisting medical centers with initiative execution.”

Soriano credits his broad-perspective thinking to the School of Nursing. He adds that his doctoral program taught him how to be a leader and reach out in order to effectively advocate for patients and communities.

“I never lose sight that it’s about the quality of life for people,” Soriano says. “Whatever disparities exist between physicians and nurses or the unintended consequences technology may bring, the School of Nursing really taught me how to thrive in that world and have the right conversations; not to be scared to reach out to leaders you may only see in the public spotlight, but have the courage to lead.”