By Vanessa Orr, South Florida Hospital News, for ACHE of South Florida
As the IT controller at Health Choice Network (HCN), a nationwide collaboration of Community Health Centers (CHCs) and partners that provide community health services to 44 safety-net provider organizations, Niurka (Nikki) Diaz, MBA, BSIE, is responsible for overseeing all the financial aspects of IT, including accounting and purchasing. As the first funded health center-controlled network (HCCH), HCN serves more than 2.6 million patients in 16 states and territories.
While she enjoys her role in supporting the company’s financial infrastructure, Diaz said that what matters most to her is how CHCs can be cost-effective as a result of the services pricing provided by HCN.
“I like that as a not-for-profit, HCN helps CHCs serving underserved patients by leveraging technology to lower their day-to-day costs,” she said, noting that the company was a pioneer in transitioning all of the centers to the cloud and in implementing Epic (EHR) throughout the network. “If you have good technology, you are able to make ever-greater advances, and I enjoy finding ways that we can accommodate their budgets to embrace the latest technology.”
Diaz’ role is to maintain HCN’s IT financials, and to reduce operating costs without jeopardizing the service’s quality in order to facilitate CHC’s cost-effectiveness.
“It is so rewarding to see how these CHCs are growing, despite the fact that they don’t have the same type of funds as larger health organizations,” she said. “Because of what we do, they have access to the same level of technology and can provide the same level of service as bigger health organizations and private health entities with much larger capital.”
Originally from Cuba, Diaz has worked at HCN for the past 15 years. She previously worked in Puerto Rico as an industrial engineer and ERP consultant for Pfizer and AstraZeneca, where she earned her master’s degree. In 2004, she moved to Miami and transitioned to a career in IT and Finance.
She joined ACHE of South Florida in 2016 and is now the Membership Chair-elect.
While she enjoys all of the services that the organization provides, Diaz, who is pursuing her FACHE credential, says that she most appreciates its educational offerings and opportunities to network with other healthcare leaders.
“While ACHE’s learning path is the most important for me, I appreciate the networking aspect as well because we can’t work in isolation,” she explained. “It’s good to get feedback from others and to talk about our common goals and experiences.”
Diaz wants to make sure that those who join ACHE are aware of all of the tools and benefits that the organization offers, as well as how to connect with other members.
“The membership team’s goal is to welcome new members, engage and involve them through educational and networking events, and make them aware of the FACHE credential path to advance in their careers,” she said.
Diaz recently completed all of the requirements necessary to earn the FACHE credential and is getting ready to take the test.
“It’s a really tough certification to earn, but it confirms that you are prepared to be a leader,” she explained. “It also gives you prestige; it shows that you work hard and are committed to your community.”