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David Winokur
David Winokur. (Photo courtesy of David Winokur)

Here’s the inside story on a guy who is responsible for everything that takes a picture of your insides.

David Winokur is the director of Medical Imaging and Interventional Cardiovascular Services at Overlake Medical Center in Bellevue, Wash. Aside from X-rays and CT scans and MRIs, Winokur is also in charge of the hospital’s cardiac catheterization lab and other departments like patient transport and EKG.

And, he’s GeekWire’s new Geek of the Week.

Winokur grew up between Massachusetts and Connecticut where he went to the University of Connecticut for Pre-Law as an undergraduate and then moved to Virginia to go to graduate school at Virginia Tech for a Master’s in Public Administration. After grad school, he was accepted into Sentara Healthcare’s administrative residency program and stayed at that health system until 2014 when he moved to Washington to join the Overlake team.

Seeing “into” people these days offers a unique perspective.

“We obviously see a wide variety of illnesses, injuries, and household items in unusual locations, but the situation that causes the greatest amount of, shall we say ‘stress,’ is when couples come in for a prenatal ultrasound to see their baby and find out they are having multiples,” Winokur said. “Many a new father have ended up on the floor as a result.”

Winokur said the pace of technological improvement in the medical imaging field is pretty rapid.

“Two areas we are investing in at Overlake are in Cardiac and Prostate imaging,” he said. “We are now able to perform medical stress tests right in the MRI and CT scanners, which allows our cardiologists to see both the structure and function of your heart. For Prostate imaging, we now have a diagnostic MRI exam that only takes about 15 minutes and gives us a 3D view of the area to both identify and provide ongoing surveillance for potentially cancerous lesions. We can take that 3D rendering and provide an almost GPS-like approach if you happen to need a biopsy as a result of the diagnostic scan. That makes the experience way less painful and invasive than it has ever been.”

Medical imaging is even being connected to 3D printing, allowing surgeons to better visualize and plan surgeries off of renderings from MRI and CT.

Winokur lives in Snoqualmie, Wash., with his wife, Randi, and their 4-year-old daughter, Margot.

Learn more about this week’s Geek of the Week, David Winokur:

What do you do, and why do you do it? “I am the director of Medical Imaging and Interventional Cardiovascular Services at Overlake Medical Center. I come from a medical family, so I’ve always been interested in the field. There’s really nothing better than being a part of someone’s care at the hospital and helping them on the road to wellness. Although I’m not talented enough to be a clinician, I feel like I can use my skills to make their jobs easier so they can better treat our patients.”

What’s the single most important thing people should know about your field? “Having an imaging study is not as scary as people think! Technique and technology has advanced so much that the amount of radiation received in your standard CTs and X-rays is quite low and the same or lower than activities like taking a plane ride or hiking up a mountain. The other is that our new MRI scanners have a really wide bore, so just because you have claustrophobia doesn’t mean you will be uncomfortable. Strangely, we have a number of people fall asleep while getting MRIs.”

Where do you find your inspiration? “It’s hard not to be inspired by what goes on at the hospital. We have a lot of brave patients who are experiencing some of the most significant challenges of their lives and they are pushing through and getting back on their feet.”

What’s the one piece of technology you couldn’t live without, and why? “Our PACS (Picture Archiving and Communication System) is fundamental to what we do across all of my departments. It basically consists of a VNA (Vendor Neutral Archive) and a zero-footprint viewer that customizes the display of the image based on the type of scan it is so a Cardiologist can see heart scans in a manner that is more suitable for them versus a Neurosurgeon. Our PACS setup allows all of our physicians to access to any image we take across the whole organization, whether it’s within the hospital or in the doctor’s office. We can import your imaging from other facilities, as well, so our physicians can compare these prior images to more recent ones.”

David Winokur loves music, and likes to pick up the guitar in his office on a daily basis. (Photo courtesy of David Winokur)

What’s your workspace like, and why does it work for you? “I think I am one of the few people who have a lead-lined office, which is kind of neat. Otherwise, it’s a pretty standard setup with a ton of pictures of my daughter and the obligatory office plant. I do keep a Fender Telecaster in the office so I can close the door and play guitar in between meetings.”

Your best tip or trick for managing everyday work and life. (Help us out, we need it.) “I like to surround myself with music. I always have music going in the office and I do my best to take time out of each day to mess around on my guitar.”

Mac, Windows or Linux? “We are a Mac family at home and I’m more or less permanently attached to my iPhone.”

Kirk, Picard, or Janeway? “I have to go Kirk. Like Jeff Goldblum, I feel like William Shatner perfectly works his own personality into his character, which you have to respect.”

Transporter, Time Machine or Cloak of Invisibility? “Transporter, if only to never have to drive on I-405 again.”

If someone gave me $1 million to launch a startup, I would … “Focus on wearable technology that could provide real-time vital monitoring and blood test values so people could have a better understanding of their health status beyond how many steps they’ve taken.”

I once waited in line for … “A ferry from Liberty State Park back to New York after a concert. We got there early to get right up to the front of the stage, which was great, but after the concert we turned around and saw 10,000 other people in between us and the two ferries that were in use to bring all of the concert attendees back to the city. Needless to say, that was about a 3 hour wait into the middle of the night.”

Your role models: “Since undergrad, I have held a great admiration for Bobby Kennedy. He was an unflinchingly genuine politician who fought for social, racial, and economic justice. He was an inspiring speaker who was able to connect with any audience and used that voice to advocate for equality.”

Greatest game in history: “A good part of childhood was wasted playing ‘Super Dodgeball’ for NES in my friend’s basement.”

Best gadget ever: “Hands down my Philips air fryer. One temperature knob and one timer dial and I can ‘cook’ like a functional adult.”

First computer: “A Gateway P5-120. I remember my dad was so excited for Quickbooks, which he used as a glorified check ledger; making it a very expensive replacement for pen and paper.”

Current phone: “iPhone 7.”

Favorite app: “Out of all the apps on my phone, Yelp gets the most use. I love to eat so being able to browse pictures of the food at any given restaurant before going is right up my alley.”

Favorite cause: “I want to give a shout out to Leadership Eastside, which is a local organization that equips leaders in our community with the tools to enhance community engagement and collaborate for the greater good. They hold both a leadership academy and ‘civic incubators’ which connect leaders and organizations and help them tackle adaptive issues that impact our region.”

Most important technology of 2018: “Overlake is in the process of partnering with NucleusHealth to provide a cloud-based image sharing platform called RadConnect that is really neat. We will be able to push and receive images from anywhere in the world and also be able to give our patients immediate access to their own scans (with a zero-footprint viewer) that they have done at any Overlake imaging location. This will effectively eliminate the need to burn discs to bring to your doctor.”

Most important technology of 2020: “A lot of my professional literature is talking about the impact of AI in ‘reading’ your imaging studies to provide a diagnosis. The technology is being developed to compare previous images to current and then run the results through an algorithm to detect various diseases.”

Final words of advice for your fellow geeks: “One of my favorite quotes is ‘There is no such thing as a dysfunctional organization, because every organization is perfectly aligned to achieve its current results.’ So many teams get caught up in individual performance or resign themselves to say “that’s just how it is” instead of analyzing the complete human and technical systems at play. Always take the time to understand the causes and effects of change and how you fit within larger or parallel systems.”

Website: Overlake Medical Center

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