Current Affiliation: Associate Professor of Surgery and Health Informatics, University of Minnesota; Chief Health Information Officer, University of Minnesota Health and Fairview Health Services
Surgical Residency, Johns Hopkins University
Colorectal Surgery Fellowship, Cleveland Clinic Foundation
PhD, Health Informatics, University of Minnesota
MD, Johns Hopkins University
MA, Biomedical Informatics, Columbia University, New York
BS, Computer Science and Electrical Engineering; BA, Mathematics, Washington University
How do I describe my work to those outside the field …
I describe my work in informatics as both applied and academic. Within our healthcare system, I serve as our Chief Health Information Officer, which is the clinical lead for Information Technology. In that role, I have responsibility for clinical decision support, clinical informatics, and enterprise data reporting and analytics, which are functions essential for improving the value and use of the electronic health record, health information technology, and their associated data for delivering patient care, performing quality improvement and process improvement, and making informed decisions with data. Academically, I am part of an informatics research team with post-doctoral fellows, students, programmers, staff and other collaborators. We are interested in approaches to automatically extract information from clinical documents in the area of natural language processing, optimal representation of clinical data with biomedical terminologies, and the usability and efficacy of health information technology in practice. I am also a colorectal surgeon, which is one of the reasons I have a special interest in improving the day-to-day work of surgeons with informatics and health information technology.
Years of experience:
Eight as a practicing surgeon and 12 years as an informatics researcher.
It may sound cliché, but I would say that informatics found me. I started as a computer scientist and an engineer and then I went to medical school, knowing I was interested in academics. I was very fortunate that during medical school, I met two informaticians who really “got it” -- Kevin Johnson, who precepted my first clinical rotation when I was a medical student rotating through pediatrics and is now Chair of Biomedical Informatics at Vanderbilt, and Harold Lehmann, who taught our medical student module in informatics and remains at Johns Hopkins. I feel really lucky because otherwise, I might not have learned about the field. Maybe it’s fate or serendipity, but I believe if I hadn’t met these individuals or been at a place that exposed me to it, I might not have pursued a career and obtained formal training in informatics.
What are your ambitions? At the end of your career, what do you hope to have accomplished?
I think most generally, I want to make a difference in the work that I do. For me, it has not been about achieving a specific, long-term goal. It’s really important for me, personally, to have meaning in the work that I do and to enjoy what I do. It’s the meaning and satisfaction that comes from caring for a patient, working with students and assisting them in their development, answering a research question, or helping deliver a better solution with information technology to our clinicians.
Who or what are your “key sources” in the informatics field?
I read JAMIA and refer to the Journal of Biomedical Informatics, and AMIA Proceedings, as well as Applied Clinical Informatics. I also try to stay on top of public policy with respect to Information Technology through HMSS News and Modern Healthcare.
Articles that spotlight my research interest …
- Melton GB, Vogel JD, Swenson BR, Remzi FH, Rothenberger DA, Wick EC. Continuous Intraoperative Temperature Measurement and Surgical Site Infection Risk: Analysis of Anesthesia Information System Data in 1,008 Colorectal Procedures. Annals of Surgery. 2013 Oct; 258(4):606-13. PMID: 23989047.
- Wang Y, Pakhomov S, Melton GB. Predicate Argument Structure Frames for Modeling Information in Operative Notes. Studies in Health Technology and Informatics. 2013;192:783-7. PMID: 23920664
- Melton GB, Raman N, Chen ES, Sarkar IN, Pakhomov S, Madoff RD. “Evaluation of Family History Information within Clinical Documents and Adequacy of HL7 Clinical Statement and Clinical Genomics Family History Models for Its Representation, A Case Report.” Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association. 2010 May 1; 17(3):337-40. PMID: 20442153.
- Melton GB, Hripcsak G. “Automated detection of adverse events using natural language processing of discharge summaries.” Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association. 2005; Jul-Aug; 12(4):448-57. PMID: 15802475.
Hobbies/Interests outside AMIA …
My family, of course. I have a 6-year-old and an 11-year-old, and they’re a joy. We have amazing bicycle trails in Minneapolis and for the past two years, I frequently ride my bike to work – except the winter remains challenging. I recently had my bike winterized, but I still haven’t mastered going year round.
AMIA is important to me because …
It’s my academic home that has allowed me to meet and work with an amazing group of supportive, smart, and creative colleagues.
I am involved with AMIA …
I’ve been involved with AMIA since 2003 starting as a graduate student. In addition to the annual symposium conference and translational summits, I have been a part of several program committees. Currently, I serve on the nomination committee, membership committee, and public policy committee.
It may surprise people to know …
In college, I was team captain and met my husband running on the track team.