Dusanka Delovska-Trajkova, CIO, Ingleside

CAST | May 16, 2018

LeadingAge CAST had an opportunity to interview Dusanka Delovska-Trajkova, Chief Information Officer at Ingleside. Dusanka has more than 25 years’ experience in computer science and automation in a variety of environments, corporate, government, educational and nonprofit in Macedonia and USA. Dusanka’s tenure with the Ingleside family includes four years leading IT for Ingleside at King Farm at Rockville before accepting the Chief Information Officer (CIO) position for Ingleside since 2012.

Dusanka, thanks for taking time to talk to us today. How about we start by you sharing with us a little bit of about yourself, your career so far, all the way to joining Ingleside and being the Chief Information Officer?

Dusanka Delovska-Trajkova: I graduated with the degree of Electrical Engineering, way back when the computers were the size of a small room and then slowly migrated to the other environments. I was working with the non-profits, for-profits, commercial companies, education companies, back in Macedonia and here.

I got involved with Senior Living in 2008, and it was a small start-up where we started everything from the ground. It was very exciting, because for people who are not aware of how complex the Senior Living, it is. It was challenging in many areas, but it was a huge experience for me. So then, I was promoted to the position of the Chief Information Officer and now we have a system of communities instead of being one site campus.

Tell us a little bit about Ingleside. What is the most exciting thing that you’re working at Ingleside?

Dusanka Delovska-Trajkova: Ingleside is a system of Senior Living Life Plan Communities, as they call them. We also have a foundation, and developing business: we have a managing company and we have a home business/ home care business. So it grew from one site that was built more than 100 years old in Washington DC. It’s now a multi-site campus, multi-regional campus, as we have campuses in DC, Maryland, and Virginia.

The most challenging and most exciting, I would rather say, it is the building of two additions, to the campus in DC and to the campus in Maryland. And the campus in Virginia, we are restructuring for the needs of the 21st century and the baby boomer generations. On top of that, we worked on multiple projects including analytics providing better analytics and better data mining for our executive teams particularly; but also that trickles down to the lower, and the lowest level of staff.

When you usually have multi-sites, then you have older applications, there is a lot of work involved in unifying IT systems. What’s your view about consolidating across multiple applications and unifying for multi-site?

Dusanka Delovska-Trajkova: When we started working on this, having individual systems obviously is an obstacle to efficient work. So, that was our imperative to integrate an interface to all our systems. So, it was not only on a network level to have two systems talk to each other, but also on the highest level, the application level. When we face challenges with partners for example, when these disparate systems don’t talk to each other. And we are very advanced, I would say, in what can be invested in the Senior Living in an interoperability platform. So two of our campuses participate in the health information exchange (HIE), which is state and regional health information exchange.

So, we are exchanging data with hospitals. However, there’s a long way in front of us in really making these systems to work when there are no standards, when there is no foundational work being set up by others. So, we’re doing the best we can to make technology a utility for our staff, instead of them seeing it as an obstacle in addition to their workload.

From your standpoint, what are the top technology trends that are going to impact this industry you think?

Dusanka Delovska-Trajkova: Non-profits are slow in adopting changes. That’s something that we need to really work hard and change the culture. The challenges are multifold. Because of lack of standards, because of lack of funding, we are slow in adapting. But also that we need to really invest in training and education; not only staff but also our clients.

With the age of breaches and HIPAA, now people are more aware of technology. With the development of mobile technology, they use at home, so they wanted us to use it at work. So it’s big. It’s not the same. When you use it at home, it works. So there are challenges with interoperability, with interfacing, with safety and security, accessibility. We have a clientele who has a lot of chronic diseases such as vision and hearing issues. So adapting our systems to provide access to these clients is also one of the opportunities.

You’ve been associated with LeadingAge CAST for quite some time now. So, what impact has CAST had on your technology strategy?

Dusanka Delovska-Trajkova: CAST was very helpful in providing us foundational and research work that we don’t have time to do, and we didn’t have access to.

The traditional research was not focused on Senior Living. So this was a fresh of breath air for us to have somebody who is actually looking at different systems and giving advice and guidelines to companies such as Senior Living without extensive IT support and technology support. Giving them guidelines, giving them advice. We call CAST when we have issues. Not only with issues, when we need some advice on which way to go, they are providing case studies to us, so we can look at others’ experiences. They also give us access to technology that is not widely accessible, widely known, and access to partners.

CAST has many providers on board and there is an advantage to us because we don’t have the time to do diligent research to make the right choices sometimes. So that’s I think the most benefit that we get from CAST.

There are a lot of young people getting into this industry that would look to replicate your success. So what would be your advice to somebody that is getting into this industry and has the ambition and the desire to have the success that you have had?

Dusanka Delovska-Trajkova: I think that as a technology provider in an organization, we get access to everything that is working or not working in the organization. So we have a view, a really deep view, of the processes and systems. And that’s the advantage that IT should take and should really embrace looking as a business opportunity; not really implementing technology per se, but looking at the business and how IT can contribute to the success of the vision, of the mission of organization and creating business opportunities for it.

That’s great advice, well Dusanka, thank you so much for taking time to share your wonderful insights with us. Really appreciate it, have a wonderful rest of the day.