From the ancient abacus to the modern day computer, information technology have propelled humans to do more, more efficiently. These devices require technicians to support their functions, such skills have been considered valuable for centuries, particularly present day.
In a demonstration of their expertise and commitment to the field, two Landstuhl Regional Medical Center technicians were lauded for their efforts during 2019.
U.S. Army Maj. Robert Hjuler, Chief Technology Officer, at LRMC, and Jonathan Conway, lead network engineer, were recognized as U.S. Army Medical Department’s Health Information Technology Officer and Civilian of the Year, respectively.
“Honestly, it is an honor to be recognized, it came out of the blue for me,” said Hjuler. “It's a truly team effort. I've been telling everybody this award is a recognition of all the work the team is doing.”
The Mercury Awards recognize AMEDD personnel who have made significant contributions and demonstrated outstanding excellence and achievement in HIT. The awards recognize the critical nature of information and technology in mission accomplishment. The name, Mercury, recalls the Roman god known for rapid transport of essential messages and information.
Criteria for nomination includes providing contributions that have enhanced the organization's ability to do its mission, process improvements, leading change for the organization, continuous improvement, and stewardship of resources, cost savings, and personal initiative.
While the humble pair both credit their teams for the accomplishment, they oversaw various projects and services including maintaining free Wi-Fi services for visitors, improving cellular capabilities at various locations and a lifecycle refresh, replacing multiple switches, routers and other equipment throughout Europe.
Although, Conway and Hjuler’s passion toward IT didn’t come with the job as Conway explains.
“I think I was born that way,” he says about his inquisitive nature. “I was taking stuff apart when I was a kid, I remember taking the microwave clock out, rearranging the wires and made an alarm clock out of it. I've always been interested in computers, I was always drawn to that field.”
Conway, a Marine Corps veteran, states he was further fascinated with IT after working with aviation electronics in the Marines.
For Hjuler, a career in IT wasn’t initially considered as his goal was to enter the Army as a pilot, but claims he’s happy with the outcome.
“My degree was actually in aviation, so I got my pilot's license and that was the path that I was trying to get in,” said Hjuler, who was later assigned as a health services system management officer. “Once I got into (the IT field) they started going over things that had always been a hobby of mine. Like (Conway), I've been fixing things since a young age.”
An Army Medicine Information Management Division is comparable to the Army’s Network Enterprise Center with functions such as planning, engineering, installing, integrating and operating electronic medical health systems across an area of operations. For the LRMC team, this encompasses any Army healthcare facility across Europe, including installing and securing the Non-Classified Internet Protocol Router Network, also known as NIPRNet, a system of interconnected computer networks used by the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Department of State to transmit official information, across three different countries and over 17 sites throughout the continent.
According to the award nomination, Conway was responsible for providing network services including Voice over Internet Phone, data, video infrastructure and wireless network services for every device and authorized personnel in the European Theater of Medical Operations, additionally supporting all Army Health Clinics and facilities, U.S. Army Medical Activity Bavaria, Public Health Command Europe, and Dental Health Command Europe.
Aside from overseeing activities in Conway’s department, Hjuler also oversees support for over 110 computer applications and manages the customer service function of IMD for over 3,500 users. These applications include essential medical programs enabling provider to provider communications and increasing efficiency across LRMC for each patient experience.