Alum Spotlight: Eli Tarlow on His Career in Technology
A Technology Leader Finds Business Solutions that Change Lives
Touro alum Eli Tarlow talks about his role as Director of Healthcare at Sirius Healthcare and why advances in technology and innovation mean “unlimited” opportunities for students interested in the field.
Can you share what you do as a Director of Healthcare at Sirius Healthcare?
My career in Information Technology began as an intern within an IT department during my final semester at Touro. At that time, I was excited about technology and didn’t focus specifically on the industry or organization where I was employed. I worked in the government, telecommunications, pharma and other industries. As I advanced in responsibility, I was offered an IT leadership role in a hospital which was daunting to me at first. I realized that the work I would be doing providing technology services not only served a greater purpose supporting health and wellness, but that it also meant that if, G-d forbid, something didn’t work as expected, it could lead to risk and impact to human life.
Serving as a Chief Information Officer for various leading hospitals in NYC for many years, enabled me to learn the “business of healthcare” and how technology can improve clinical outcomes, patient experience, provider engagement and the overall common financial goals of hospitals. I joke that what I loved most about my role as a hospital CIO was that “I get to provide patient care, but without the medical school student loans”. It is still a relatively small amount of people that completely understand the technology options that support the goals of health. The healthcare industry has improved significantly over the last decade in how it takes advantage of technology but still remains far behind other sectors such as retail, finance, travel, etc.
After many years working within hospitals, I decided to move to the vendor side which now gives me the opportunity to help many CIOs and many hospitals across the country. I get to help healthcare organizations learn about leading edge technology and how those solutions can help improve their business and the lives of the patients they serve.
How do you know which technology trends will impact the healthcare world?
There’s a reason for the term “practicing” medicine. Physicians, nurses, etc. know that they are continuously learning about advances in science and medicine and how best to provide care. The same applies in the healthcare technology area. Not a day goes by that I’m not amazed about a new breakthrough. I learn from peers who participate with me on volunteer committees and boards. I learn by attending conferences and seminars. I learn by reading published articles. Mostly I learn from those on the frontline at the hospitals. We meet and discuss real life challenges they face and I bring that back to my team. Of course, if a product or solution already exists, we introduce that to them. If there isn’t a viable solution in the market already, we have our own mock patient room simulation labs and can bring vendor partners in to develop a new, unique product.
How do you see healthcare evolving in light of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning? Will this technology improve patient outcomes? Improve the way hospitals and healthcare systems are set up?
One component that makes a doctor highly successful is his/her ability to absorb information and then to retain the information. A cardiologist who has seen 1,000 patients could arguably provide a better assessment of a condition than another specialist who has only seen 50 patients. However, as humans, there is a limit to how much information we can absorb as well as a limit to how much we can retain. This doesn’t apply to machines. As long as we can increase the computing storage, machines can “learn” and retain more. For example, a machine can store billions of heart rhythm sound files. It can be taught what “normal” is, and automatically detect abnormalities out of a defined range. The frame of reference for a human, using a stethoscope, is limited and can only compare to what was learned and with patients he/she personally met in practice. With advancements in technology, machines can now “learn” and retain medical information at a greater level than a human will ever be able to. Seeing how this has objectively improved patient outcomes, healthcare providers have quickly adapted the use of AI and machine learning in almost all areas. This has proven to be highly effective with patient charting, diagnosis and treatment, decision support, medication management, etc.
What opportunities are there in the tech sector for students who are graduating now and in the next few years? How can they best prepare?
The short answer is “unlimited.” Technology is an absolute requirement in every single business and in every single industry. Technology brings convenience and service. As consumers, we know we have choices and we continue to be loyal to the companies that are “better, faster, cheaper”. The survival of any business and the ability to remain competitive almost solely depends on the right investments in technology.
For students that are considering a career in the tech sector, firstly, I would recommend they learn what it is about themselves that excites them and to align that energy with a specific area in technology. For example, there are many people that love working to develop something new. They could consider focusing on software or hardware development. Others I would imagine might despise “coding” or building and they get excited about fixing or resolving issues. They should consider focusing on technology troubleshooting and the technical services area. The biggest mistake a graduating student could make is chasing a fad or a trend. The second piece of advice I’d give is for students to equally invest in non-technical “soft skills”. I’ve seen many, many times, where the person with the best technology skills and experience lost to the candidate who was articulate, could show a level of understanding business acumen, and able to communicate effectively.
How did Touro help you in your career?
I graduated with a degree in Management Information Systems. It was a fairly new field at the time and Touro did a great job requiring classes that covered many diverse areas which provided great perspective over my career. It covered the obvious technology classes but it also included classes in business, finance, management, communication, etc. I have an incredible amount of gratitude to Touro for providing me the platform to begin my career and my son just began his first semester with Touro this month!