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Kara Backman, McLean’s chief information officer, said she has been fortunate as a woman pursuing a career in the traditionally male-dominated field of information technology (IT). “Personally, I have not faced many barriers in my career being a woman,” she said. “I’ve been fortunate to be surrounded by supportive male and female managers and colleagues while working at Partners HealthCare.”
Backman has grown and advanced to become a leader in health care IT. Following college, she went to work at MEDITECH, an electronic medical records firm. In 2005, she came to Partners to work at Brigham and Women’s Hospital as a clinical systems analyst. She moved on to Partners Information Systems, where she was integral to the successful establishment of the Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) Program. In 2012, Backman joined Partners eCare as project director for Clinical Programs and Services. In this role, she led teams involved in internal development, application integration, hardware, business continuity, and security.
Backman has been McLean’s CIO for the past year. In this role, she is responsible for electronic health systems that are used across the clinical, administrative, and financial areas of the hospital. She also oversees the hospital’s technical services, including computers, printers, networks, information security, and telecommunications.
For Backman, technology is central to her job, but it’s not her only focus. “In everything my team does, we’re thinking about the patient first,” she said. In addition, she and her team strive to make technology “work in the most efficient way possible” to help all McLean users “provide the best care to our patients.”
With all that she has achieved in the technology field, Backman is eager to assist other women looking to advance in their careers. Through both formal mentoring programs and informal conversations with women coming up in tech, she said that she tries “to help people feel comfortable going outside their comfort zone and encourages them to take the next step to move forward.”
A big part of this mentoring, she believes, is encouraging women to take chances. “If there’s something that you want, put yourself out there and go after it,” she said. “Even if you don’t get it right away, use it as a learning experience to make it happen in the future.”