With the start of my new job at the Regenstrief Institute in Indianapolis, I have also started a new blog. (Some of you may be familiar with my posts on the Dental Informatics Online Community Blog, but from now on most, if not all, of my blogging will happen here.) I wanted to tell you a little bit about what’s been going on since I moved here and what I’m planning for this blog.
The Health Information and Translational Sciences Building (my office) (June 2013)
My new position here is Clem McDonald Professor of Biomedical Informatics and Director, Center for Biomedical Informatics (CBMI). Here is how this came about: Early last year, I got an email from the chair of the search committee, asking me whether I would consider applying for the position of director at the CBMI. Two thoughts crossed my mind: “I didn’t know you were looking for a director” and “Why me?” After a fairly lengthy recruitment cycle (not atypical for academia) I happily joined my 15 faculty and 70 staff colleagues full-time on June 1, 2013.
So, what does the Regenstrief Institute do? Our motto is “Advancing healthcare through research, development and education” and that is what we have been doing for about 40 years. Our center, the CBMI, is a global collaborative research and learning organization. We develop and evaluate innovative informatics solutions to improve patient care. We translate these solutions into cost-effective, operational systems, including a dynamic electronic medical record system called G3 at Wishard Hospital. And, we have research programs in:
- computerized physician order entry
- health information exchange
- public health
- global health
- drug safety
- reference standards
- research infrastructure
- data epidemiology
Flowers at the Broadripple Farmers Market (June 2013)
If this sounds like a pretty exciting place to work, you are onto something. It is one of the major reasons why I’m here. When I was in dental school in Frankfurt, Germany, in 1985, I was already familiar with the work of the CBMI’s founder, Clem McDonald. Under his direction, CBMI was working on the Medical Gopher (“A Microcomputer System to Help Find, Organize and Decide About Patient Data”). Gopher was one of the first computerized physician order entry systems in the world, and its development has influenced informatics and health information technology in countless ways.
One of the things I have always admired about the Regenstrief Institute is its focus on practical applications in healthcare. Our business is to impact health care, regardless of whether that is locally, regionally or nationally. This philosophy resonates strongly with me. Ever since I touched a computer, I tried to solve real-world problems, whether that was helping my Dad with calculating the value of standing lumber, writing materials testing software for Fichtel&Sachs in Schweinfurt, or writing an expert system to schedule students’ clinical rotations at Temple University School of Dentistry. When I first interviewed for the position, I thought “Wow, these people are like me.” I felt like I had come home.
So, where to from here? The Regenstrief Institute is a storied institution with a rich history of accomplishments. Yet, the world of biomedical informatics and health information technology is changing, and the CBMI must adapt and evolve in order to continue to thrive. One priority for me is to make the innovations we produce here more accessible and usable to the rest of the world. Publishing papers in high-quality journal is wonderful, but not enough. We must affect the health and lives of people with the methods we develop and software we build. I am looking forward to doing that with our current partners, including Indiana University Health, Wishard Hospital, Community Health, and St. Vincent, as well as new ones. One of my other top priorities is to attract the best and brightest minds in informatics, computer science, and medicine and other healthcare fields from the US and around the world to work at a place that has few equals in terms of opportunity.
Aristotle (1637), by Jusepe de Ribera, is within the IMA’s permanent collection. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
On a personal note, I am enjoying getting acquainted with Indianapolis as a place to live. The people here are friendly, easygoing and open. Currently, I am living seven minutes away from work (by bicycle) and enjoy the short commute. Two weeks ago, I visited the Broadripple Farmers Market, and last week, my wife Alida and I bicycled around Columbus, Indiana (near the wonderful Brown County State Park.) In Indianapolis, we have already enjoyed the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the Rathskeller Biergarten and the Canal.
If you are in town, please make time to visit us! Contact me at schleyer (at) regenstrief (dot) org. I look forward to welcoming you!
PS: Official press release:
PPS: I have closed comments on this blog until I can figure out a way to keep too much spam from coming in. On the DIOC blog, we had about 600 spam messages to each real one. If someone knows how to improve on that signal to noise ratio, please let me know.