Current Affiliation: Associate Chief Medical Informatics Officer and Professor at Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine, Scranton, Penn.
SB, Chemistry, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
MD, New York Medical College
How do I describe my work to those outside the field …
My description of my work has changed over the years along with the field of informatics. Currently, I tell people that I’m involved with analyzing all of the data we are collecting within healthcare and using it to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of healthcare delivery to patients.
Years of experience:
That’s a really interesting question, because in some ways I’ve been involved with informatics my entire career, even long before I even knew there was such a term as informatics. For example, 20 years ago, as a practicing forensic pathologist, I was writing software systems to manage the data and work flows in our office, as well as generating reports from that data for government to utilize to protect the public’s health and safety. It was years later that I learned that what I was doing was informatics.
There are both inward (personal) and outward answers to that question. Personally, informatics combines two professions that have fascinated me since I was a teenager, medicine and computer science. I am grateful to have the opportunity to combine both of my professional interests into a single career. Looking outward, informatics is one of the foundations on which 21st century medicine is based, with the potential to change everything in healthcare. We frequently hear about new medications or therapies that are going to “cure” some disease or condition, and more often than not the hopes turn out to be greater than the reality. I believe that informatics is going to be the real game changer in the practice of medicine in the years to come. Being a part of that evolution is why I am an informatician.
What are your ambitions? At the end of your career, what do you hope to have accomplished?
My main ambition is to be able to make a difference – a hopefully positive change in how we practice informatics and medicine. One major area of focus for me is education. My mom was a public school teacher in NYC for 40 years and I inherited the teaching gene. I am currently trying to figure out how we should teach informatics to physicians, nurses, pharmacists, allied health professionals, IT professionals, and others. Getting informatics education correct in a rapidly evolving field is crucial. There is an explosion of institutions offering education in “informatics,” and I fear that many of these programs are not teaching their students what is necessary for the future of our field. I am working with our medical school to develop a comprehensive informatics curriculum for students from all backgrounds and levels. I hope that I can make a significant contribution to informatics education by the end of my career.
Who or what are your “key sources” in the informatics field?
For me personally, I find nothing replaces conversations with people, whether it’s face to face or virtual. Yes, I read journals but much more it’s just talking to other people in our field, whether at an educational session or at a social gathering.
Articles that spotlight my research interest …
- Longhurst CA, Pageler NM, Palma JP, Finnel JT, Levy, BP, Yackel TR, Mohan V and Hersh WR. Early experiences of accredited Clinical Informatics fellowships. JAMIA. 2016;0:1-6.
- Yagi Y, Riedlinger G, Nakamura A, Levy B, et al. Development of a database and image viewer to assist in the correlation of histopathologic features and digital image analysis with clinical and molecular genetic information. Pathol Int. 2016; doi: 10.1111/pin.12382
- Levy B. The need for informatics to support forensic pathology and death investigation. J Pathol Inform. 2015;6:32.
- Mateevitsi V, Patel T, Leigh J and Levy B. Re-imagining the microscope in the 21st Century using the Scalable Adaptive Graphics Environment. J Pathol Inform. 2015;6:25.
- Levy B. Informatics and Autopsy Pathology. Surg Pathol Clinics. 2015;8(2):159-174.
- McClintock DS, Levy BP, Lane WJ, et al. A core curriculum for clinical fellowship training in pathology informatics. J Pathol Inform. 2012;3: 31.
Hobbies/Interests outside AMIA ...
One of my main interests outside of my professional interests are water ecosystems. I enjoy exploring natural aquatic ecosystems through snorkeling and scuba diving. But I especially love creating artificial systems in a home that mimics natural ecosystems as closely as possible. I have had fish tanks since I was a young child. Right now, I just have a small aquarium made from an old iMac computer, because I recently moved to Danville. In the past I had a 200-gallon living reef tank and a 300-gallon saltwater predator tank.
AMIA is important to me because ...
AMIA is both the brains and the heart of informatics today. We have a vision for the future of informatics, and are willing to put in the work to make that vision a reality. The people in AMIA are fabulous; our staff, fellow members and leadership.
I am involved with AMIA ...
I currently serve as the Chair of the Community of Clinical Informatics Program Directors within the Academic Forum, which also makes me an ex-officio member of the Academic Forum Board. I’m also involved with several other working groups within AMIA. I represent AMIA on the informatics pre-review committee of the ACGME. I am honored to have been asked to run for a position on the AMIA Board and hope my fellow members will support my nomination by voting for me.
It may surprise people to know ...
I don’t know how much it would surprise people to know this, but I have been a fan of Star Trek since it first aired in 1966. I got to go this year on the 50th anniversary Star Trek cruise hosted by William Shatner and many other actors from across the franchise. I wore an official medical uniform from the original series and told everyone I was the CMIO for Starfleet Medical. Even in the 23rd Century they are not sure what informatics is all about!