Each month, we spotlight one of the many great leaders from the 25 member health systems that make up Truveta and help advance our mission of saving lives with data. We’ll share their perspectives on the future of medicine, the changing role of technology in healthcare, and the critical importance of real-time, de-identified data to accelerate research, advance health equity, and save lives. 

This month, we’re featuring Tina Esposito, System Vice President and Chief Health Information Officer, Business Intelligence and Analytics, at Advocate Health. Tina’s responsibilities range from data management to business intelligence and analytics, in support of improving outcomes and performance. 

We asked Tina how data science has evolved, how the pandemic changed the way she approaches her role, and more.  

Tell us about yourself. Can you share a bit about your background? 

I knew early on that I wanted to work in health care — initially as a physical therapist. Then, when I was about 18 years old, my aunt had a stroke. I was so grateful for her team of healthcare professionals, but watching her recovery journey made me question whether patient care was the right path for me. I started focusing on the business aspects of health care to ensure I could still make a meaningful impact on people’s lives. That’s when I discovered the power of data and the ability to find answers to all types of questions plaguing the industry.  

Why did you join Advocate Aurora Health, which recently came together with Atrium Health to create Advocate Health?

Prior to joining the organization more than 20 years ago, I worked part-time at a very small community hospital to help pay for college. My job was coding patient charts to support billing.  The more I worked, the more I realized that the information I was entering into the computer could be used to help answer questions for both doctors and hospital administrators. It was that realization — and the desire to make a bigger impact in health care — that led me to focus on data exclusively and be part of a health system with greater reach. 

You serve on one of Truveta’s Board of Governors’ committees. What do you think is unique about Truveta’s approach? 

Advocate and Aurora see about three million patients annually, so we have an enormous amount of data. But in today’s information age, it’s still not enough to answer some of the hardest and most pressing questions in health care. I’m also enthusiastic about the alignment with our efforts to meaningfully address health equity. Truveta has the potential to help provide a rich source of information to researchers and other partners on populations that have historically been underrepresented in studies.  

How has your work during the pandemic changed or reinforced your views on patient-centered care? 

The early days of the pandemic challenged hospitals and health systems across the country to come together and rally around one goal: providing safe and effective care. In a post-pandemic world, we must be intentional about our priorities and make thoughtful decisions about how we’re deploying talent and scarce resources. This extends to people who work with data. 

Can you tell us about a pivotal moment, event, or person in your life that changed the direction of your career? 

In 2012, I was part of a team tasked with bringing big data to the health system. That was back when data science — the idea of using data to find answers to big questions — was considered an emerging trend. We collaborated with a large industry partner to build a team focused on population health and figure out how this could work in our industry. I remember thinking at the time, “How are we going to do this?” But then we did it. We grew something out of nothing and created several models that helped predict which patients would require certain interventions. It changed my mentality. 

I see a lot of parallels between that experience and what Truveta aims to accomplish by pooling data from different sources. Anything is possible with the right partners and a can-do attitude.  

What are you looking forward to next in the healthcare industry? 

Machine learning and artificial intelligence are relatively novel concepts in healthcare. Truveta’s ability to pool together data from different sources is fundamental to advancing such efforts. That could mean bringing artificial intelligence to life to solve pressing business questions — from automating tasks to more accurately rightsizing services based on patient and community needs. I’m excited about the prospect of making artificial intelligence more accessible and routine in the work we do.