This month we spent some time with Associate Professor Melissa Baysari. Mel is an Associate Professor in Digital Health in the Faculty of Health Sciences at The University of Sydney.
Can you please tell us about a day in your life?
I am fairly new to the University of Sydney and have not yet established a “routine” here. But a typical day for me usually includes a combination of some of the following: Reviewing colleagues’ work, supervising/mentoring more junior staff, brainstorming project ideas, team, project and committee meetings, external reviews (for journals, conferences, grants), collecting and analysing data, preparing and giving presentations, writing grants, writing papers, reading papers, cuddling my cat (oh and my husband), eating, drinking (especially tea) and swimming (on some days of the week).
But it is very dependent on the time of year and on any impending deadlines. For example, over the past 2 days I have done nothing else but a heuristic analysis of an oncology electronic medical record (i.e. walked through the system to identify usability problems).
Some of the larger projects I am working on include an NHMRC Partnership project (with partners eHealth NSW and eHealth QLD) which aims to evaluate and improve computerised alerts for hospital prescribers, an NHMRC Partnership which aims to determine in the impact of electronic medication management on medication errors and patient harm, and a project with aims to develop computerised decision support embedded in an electronic medical record to facilitate deprescribing in older patients.
How do you define digital health?
I think digital health is the use of information technology (computers, apps, the internet, etc) to support health and the delivery of healthcare.
What do you think will enable digital health projects and innovations to succeed?
I’m a bit biased here because my background is in Human Factors, but I think for digital health to succeed we need to think more about the way that digital health impacts on users. Digital health is becoming more and more sophisticated (algorithms to predict X and Y) but we have not really mastered even some of the basic things yet with respect to human-IT interaction: how do we get a busy provider to step away from their routine work to follow a recommendation generated by a decision support system? How do we get a patient to keep using an app after the novelty wears off? How do we get a provider who previously gave advice over the telephone to feel as comfortable giving advice over video? Understanding and improving the “fit” between users and digital health is what I think will enable it to succeed.
Have you come across any surprises or challenges along the way?
Related to my last point, when I first started working in healthcare, about 10 years ago, I was really surprised about how few Human Factors people were around. I noticed that healthcare, including the digital health space, had lagged behind other industries (e.g. transport) in its uptake of Human Factors methods and approaches, with few Human Factors researchers and practitioners embedded within healthcare organisations. But this is starting to change. People are beginning to recognise the importance of Human Factors and user-centred design, and I’m really glad to see that.
Do you have any interesting resources or helpful networks people should know about?
IEA Healthcare Ergonomics technical committee: https://www.iea.cc/about/technical.php?id=51dea4f031b42
Connect with Associate Professor Melissa Baysari
USyd profile: http://sydney.edu.au/health-sciences/about/people/profiles/melissa.baysari.php
A very big thank you to Mel for her time this month.
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