The IT Factor

How Judy Lefkovitz turned a passion for math, technology, and healthcare into a career with DSI Renal—and how it continues to fuel her everyday work

For some people, it can take years to find the ideal career. But for DSI Renal’s Judy Lefkovitz, the calling came naturally. Early in her career, she landed a job consulting for a start-up EMR company, and from there, she was hooked on the medical field. It was also at this time that she realized she thrived on the business administration side as much as she did on the technical/IT side. “The more I did, the more I wanted to do,” she says. “Working in healthcare was fascinating to me because it is something that touches every person; everybody can identify with it. It doesn’t only impact that person; it impacts every family, every society, and every business on so many different levels. To be a part of that seemed like a dream career.”

Lefkovitz, who studied mathematics in college, didn’t come to health IT in a traditional manner. While not the traditional way of selecting a college major, Lefkovitz’s education strategy paid off for her, readily preparing her for the high-level IT position she inhabits today, even if it’s not why she initially chose that major. “I majored in mathematics at Tulane because, for me, it was the easiest major,” she admits. “I wouldn’t have to research or write papers—just work problems, which I always considered fun. I also had to listen, which is a skill I found to be extremely helpful later, since listening is key to implementing solutions. It was truly why I did it. For most, mathematics would be considered a complicated major, but for me, I really thought it was the most practical and fun major.”

Her background in mathematics also helped to reinforce her passion for solving problems and finding the easiest and most-effective solutions—something she continues to do today at DSI Renal. “I learned very early in my career that I thrived on challenging myself, trying to exceed every goal I set,” she says. “Being the hardest critic of myself inspired me to push myself to be successful in everything I did.” 

To that end, Lefkovitz’s passion for solving problems and for listening has landed  her at her current role at DSI Renal. Founded in 2011, the Nashville-based company provides access to state-of-the-art dialysis care for more than 7,500 patients who suffer from chronic kidney failure and renal disease. DSI Renal is currently growing its national presence by acquiring new clinics and establishing additional joint venture partnerships with leading nephrologists for the clinic, hospital, and alternate settings.

As executive vice president, chief administrative officer, and chief information officer, Lefkovitz oversees the entire IT side of the DSI Renal’s operations. That includes the ongoing support of its proprietary software for the corporate office and its 100 clinics, which are throughout the United States, including Hawaii. “I usually tell people [who aren’t affiliated with DSI Renal] that I’m not the typical CIO,” Lefkovitz says. “I am a member of an executive team, so I am able to strategize our company goals and propose novel solutions, as well as interact with people from all areas of the company.”

Lefkovitz has built an impressive résumé over the years, but despite being on top of her industry, she is constantly looking to improve her craft and to keep learning new ways to perform her job more effectively. Some of her biggest thrills come when physicians tell her that she has enhanced their quality of life by equipping them with the right tools to execute their job more quickly and accurately, or when a reimbursement manager says that the system has enabled them to consolidate while still exceeding their cash goals. “When I’ve turned what seemed to be an impossible situation into a streamlined, easy, and cost-effective solution, I  feel a huge sense of accomplishment,” she says. “My love of learning, listening, and problem solving, along with a strong desire to achieve, motivates me to keep doing better and better.”

Lefkovitz’s desire to constantly surpass expectations played a strong part in DSI Renal’s merger with US Renal Care at the end of last year. Through her role of acclimating physicians as new IT solutions are implemented, she played a key role in integrating the two companies while meeting the merger’s business needs.

“There are always more tools that I’d like to see developed,” she says. “I always want to strive to be innovative; I don’t want to be complacent, ever. I want to continue having opportunities to show what an engaged CIO can do beyond just overseeing the IT side of the company.” And that’s what propels Lefkovitz forward as DSI begins a new chapter in 2016. “In the course of my career, I became more confident and discovered the value of teamwork,” she says. “I’m fortunate to have a very dedicated and involved team that plays a vital role in our IT successes.”