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Catherine Chen, M.D.

Master of Science in Health Informatics

Undergraduate Degree: Biomedical Engineering
Undergraduate Institution: Northwestern University, 2005
Doctor of Medicine: Northwestern University, 2009
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA

Catherine Chen

How did you become interested in health informatics? Please feel free to describe any previous professional roles or education experiences that help lead you to your interest in health informatics.

I have had a long-standing interest in the intersection between health and technology after being exposed to computer programming at an early age. I pursued a degree in biomedical engineering in order to better understand how biotechnology can improve human life and health, which shaped my perception throughout my medical training. I became interested in health informatics after being exposed to clinical early warning systems in the electronic medical record that were intended to predict patient deterioration. Despite increasingly widespread use, clinical early warning systems have not improved patient outcomes and reinforced my belief that clinicians needed to take a more active role in the development of these tools.

Why did you choose to come to UTSW?

The health informatics program at UT Southwestern is being developed by well-established experts in the field of clinical informatics who have a strong track record. It is also exciting to help shape the curriculum of this new degree program.

What are your current health informatics research interests?

I am interested in levering machine learning to improve clinical decision support tools in the electronic health record to help clinicians make more informed treatment decisions. Currently, use of clinical decision support tools such as clinical deterioration warning flags has not decreased mortality among hospitalized patients despite their accuracy at identifying those who are critically ill. My hope is that by taking a clinician's perspective on developing these tools, we can achieve more actionable early warning systems that would lead to an improvement in mortality.

What do you love about your program or why should a prospective student decide to get their degree here?

The MSHI degree program at UT Southwestern believes that diversity creates a stronger program, and our inaugural class is evidence of that. The opportunity to cross collaborate with individuals from all aspects of healthcare and informatics has been incredibly educational and faculty have been unfailingly supportive.