Mak­ing IT do the right thing

Modern Healthcare - - Information Edge -

Dr. Carol Stel­tenkamp is “one of those” physi­cian tech­nol­ogy lead­ers, ex­celling at many tasks. As an aca­demic, Stel­tenkamp has served as an as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor in the divi­sion of gen­eral pe­di­atrics at the Univer­sity of Ken­tucky and as as­so­ciate chief of staff at Ken­tucky Hos­pi­tal and as­sis­tant dean for clin­i­cal af­fairs at the univer­sity’s Col­lege of Medicine.

She started to help ad­vance the med­i­cal in­for­mat­ics ef­fort at the Univer­sity of Ken­tucky health­care sys­tem when IT lead­er­ship po­si­tions didn’t come with much in the way of for­mal ti­tles, first serv­ing on the in­for­ma­tion sys­tems ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee in 1998. In 2002, Stel­tenkamp was named med­i­cal di­rec­tor of clin­i­cal in­for­ma­tion sys­tems for UK Health­Care, and then, in 2005, chief med­i­cal in­for­ma­tion of­fi­cer. In be­tween, she earned an MBA from UK with an em­pha­sis in in­for­mat­ics.

More re­cently, Stel­tenkamp has be­come the pri­mary in­ves­ti­ga­tor for the Ken­tucky health IT re­gional ex­ten­sion cen­ter, a fed­er­ally funded pro­gram un­der the Amer­i­can Re­cov­ery and Rein­vest­ment Act of 2009. And, oh yes, Stel­tenkamp still sees pa­tients. “I do think it helps keep you grounded,” she says. “It keeps you fo­cused on why you’re do­ing the IT stuff, be­cause I’m not a tech­ni­cal per­son. I’m a physi­cian who ap­pre­ci­ates the abil­ity of tech­nol­ogy to im­prove pa­tient care.”

As a re­searcher, Stel­tenkamp says that while she re­mains pas­sion­ate about the use of tech­nol­ogy to im­prove pa­tient care, work also needs to be done to en­sure that IT sup­ports the physi­cian’s oath to “First, do no harm.”

“In my mind, there are two sides of us­ing IT,” Stel­tenkamp says. “You’re mov­ing peo­ple for­ward and do­ing the right thing for the pa­tients. The flip side is you have to make it very dif­fi­cult to do that wrong thing. I think we need to spend more time on that side of the coin rather than say­ing we’re go­ing to get peo­ple to do the right things.”

UK was an early adopter of com­put­er­ized physi­cian or­der en­try sys­tems, Stel­tenkamp says, and now the univer­sity’s health­care sys­tem is lever­ag­ing that in­vest­ment.


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