Supporting our Core Mission
I have been with the Health Science Center for over 5 years now, and the one thing that has remained constant in that time is the sense of pride I have working here. Seeing the passion of our faculty and researchers and watching our students learn using our innovative teaching technologies makes this an ever-exciting place to work. Being part of an organization with a well-defined mission and having the privilegee to work with such a great group of people is more than I could ever ask for.
Interim Executive Director
Office of Information Technology
The Office of Information Technology plays an essential role in supporting the Health Science Center’s mission. We provide secure, state of the art IT services to our students, faculty and staff to support the academic and research mission of the Health Science Center. We also work closely with our clinical staff to ensure they have the necessary systems to provide care and educate the next generation of health care providers.
In 2017, we are focusing our efforts on expansion of the TAMHSC network to better support our rural clinics and offices throughout the state, refining our service offerings, and improving the security of all TAMHSC resources. We look forward to supporting the growth of the TAMHSC, including its partnerships with hospitals, colleges, and military facilities around Texas. The Office of Information Technology strives to be on the front lines of these efforts - "ensuring that our students, faculty and staff have what they need to improve health and quality of life across the state, around the nation, and throughout the world."
I am looking forward to serving this organization in my new role as the Interim Executive Director of OIT. My goal in this position is to ensure the Office of Information Technology remains a strong leader among other IT organizations, and that we always support the mission of the Health Science Center in everything we do.
Transforming our Learning Environment
OIT has undertaken innovative renovations to learning spaces across several of the TAMHSC campuses. In Dallas and College Station, upgrades to Dentistry and Medicine classrooms created new interactive student stations and added videoconferencing capabilities for distance learning.
In Bryan, several large lecture halls received new large displays that are brighter and higher contrast, greatly improving readability. Lecture halls on the Kingsville campus also received display upgrades that replaced large projector screens with video walls.
Not only have we upgraded the physical spaces in our facilities, we've also made it easier to find and reserve them. Using the new RoomTraq scheduling program, students and faculty on each campus can easily reserve facilities with the specific technology that fits their needs. RoomTraq also allows users to schedule video conferences.
RoomTraq has provided our schedulers with more data regarding each room's usage and capabilities, making them better equipped to provide assistance if needed. Since launching RoomTraq in August 2016, room reservation requests have nearly doubled in number each month.
We have also taken advantage of touch screen and wayfinding technologies in our digital signage. We installed large monitors in entryways on the Bryan and College Station campuses, giving visitors access to building maps, classroom calendars, and the staff and faculty directory. Installations are also planned for our buildings on the Temple and Dallas campuses.
Through these types of state-of-the-art technology improvements, OIT continues to transform and improve the classroom experience for our students and instructors across the state.
Empowering our Researchers
OIT has made major improvements to our infrastructure and services to support innovative and collaborative research. Major updates to our network in 2016 have greatly improved the connectivity and speed between TAMHSC locations and the outside world. We have also built and redesigned research-focused websites across our colleges to showcase the work of TAMHSC faculty and students and connect them more easily and securely to their collaborators.
At the request of several of our School of Public Health researchers, OIT implemented RedCap, a powerful web-based research data collection tool. RedCap allows our researchers to securely collect and work with PHI, and also supports collaboration with researchers outside TAMHSC. RedCap is now also being used by researchers in the College of Medicine and the College of Nursing and their affiliates.
Fostering Health Promotion & Clinical Care
Students, faculty, and researchers within TAMHSC work continuously to promote healthy living throughout Texas, especially among underserved populations. OIT is proud to support these efforts with innovative technological solutions to everyday problems in the field.
For example, the diabetes education kiosk (aka DIOSK) is a diabetes education self-management tool conceived by the School of Public Health and supported by OIT. In 2016, a grant provided community health workers with tablets to easily share the DIOSK with more diabetes patients and their families. OIT helped design and develop the DIOSK software and equipped these devices with AirWatch Mobile Device Management to encrypt PHI and provide remote management for security and software updates.
OIT also continued to assist in TAMHSC’s expansion of the Houston campus by adding a new site at Houston Methodist Hospital into the TAMHSC network. This most recent network extension helps support the growth of clinical training opportunities like the College of Medicine’s new Engineering and Medicine (EnMed) option. EnMed is an innovative collaboration with the Texas A&M College of Engineering focused on educating physicians with both strong clinical skills and an engineering mindset.
Serving our Students, Faculty, and Staff
OIT makes a big impression on our students, faculty, and staff by supporting their academic and research pursuits.
In the past year, the OIT Helpdesk handled an average of 945 calls per month, and successfully resolved over 15,000 tickets.
As TAMHSC has continued to expand, the Networking group has upgraded wireless networks and other infrastructure on our remote campuses. AV support has also expanded its support and maintenance projects and continues to receive glowing customer reviews.
Additionally, the Support team implemented a new self-serve system for individuals to reset their password without having to call the help desk.
According to our recent customer satisfaction survey, 91% of faculty, staff, and students who submitted tickets in 2016 rated their OIT experience above average. 71% of responders rated the service as "Excellent". 34% of customers consider OIT to be a "strategic partner" and a "trusted advisor" in their department's success.
Promoting our Institution
One of OIT's most visible jobs is to develop and manage websites for all of the TAMHSC colleges and research centers.
Our websites are the primary vehicle by which our educational programs and accomplishments are shared with the world.
They play a crucial role in the recruitment of students and the promotion of TAMHSC's mission.
In 2016, the OIT Web Team worked with Governmental and Public Affairs to implement a redesign of Vital Record, TAMHSC's digital newsroom. Vital Record condenses the groundbreaking research and expert knowledge of TAMHSC faculty for public consumption, exploring a broad variety of current health topics and trends.
The new Vital Record design has allowed us to share these stories more widely with national news outlets, solidifying TAMHSC as an authority in health information.
We also launched insider news sites aimed at providing specialized news for the College of Dentistry and the College of Medicine. These sites provide more in-depth information for Faculty, Staff, Students and Alumni. Highlighting departmental news and the performance of students and faculty in more detail than our more public-facing sites.
Finally, OIT has integrated our component web calendars into calendar.tamu.edu, the main event calendar for Texas A&M University. Public TAMHSC events can now be shared more broadly with the Texas A&M University community, and targeted calendar widgets can be more easily integrated into TAMHSC website designs.
Securing our Infrastructure
The sophistication of today’s cyber criminals has forced us to up the ante when it comes to protecting private information. OIT is continually striving to ensure that the private information of our students, faculty and staff remains secure.
In 2016, OIT completed the process of migrating all TAMHSC websites to HTTPS. This protocol encrypts all communications between our sites and their users, which improving privacy, security and search engine ranking. We have also migrated all websites to a new, state of the art, web application firewall to further enhance security.
Through a partnership with the TAMUS Security Operations Center, OIT now has access to Vectra, a state of the art intrusion detection system. Vectra collects and interprets traffic from sensors placed throughout our network, then flags communications between computers that might be malicious. OIT Security uses this tool to identify and investigate potentially infected hosts, keeping legitimate network traffic safe.
To protect our users and their personal data, OIT has automated individual account processes using HSCID, and implemented change.tamhsc.edu - a password manager that allows for end-users to reset forgotten passwords without contacting the Help Desk. We also began integrating of Duo, a two factor authentication process, into TAMHSC services.
Finally, OIT has enhanced email protection against phishing attempts through Proofpoint. Proofpoint now protects every incoming email from any source, not just within the TAMHSC network.
OIT is proud to be a partner in educating our future health professionals. We look forward to further collaboration and growth within the Health Science Center.