I am part of the Hematologic Malignancies group at Children's Hospital, which focuses on the care of children with leukemia, lymphoma and related diseases. My particular clinical focus is on acute lymphoblastic leukemia, the most common type of childhood cancer. My goal, along with my colleagues, is to provide the best possible care for children with cancer, whether at initial diagnosis or when relapse or problems with treatment occur. This means making available treatments that are based on current research as well as established standards.
In addition to having medical expertise, it’s also important to provide compassionate and responsive care for patients and their families--at times which can be very stress-filled and confusing. Part of my role is to insure that families are well-informed about the treatment their child receives and are comfortable with the choices they make. This helps ensure they can participate as an active part of the care team. It extends to treatment decisions as well as to supporting quality of life and normal development despite medical needs.
To develop better ways to cure cancer in children, we need to learn more about how leukemias and lymphomas behave — often referred to as disease biology — and about the actual effectiveness and risks of different treatment strategies for patients. This area includes both clinical trials and outcomes research.
My background is in biomedical informatics, which is the use of information technology and computer science to answer questions about medicine, ranging from molecular biology to quality of care. I strongly believe it's possible to improve clinical care by gathering more appropriate information and providing better ways to organize that information for the clinicians making patient decisions. My research focuses on different aspects of this question. I am part of the team at Children's Hospital working to develop the Pediatric Electronic Data Sharing Network (PEDSNet). This collaboration among children’s hospitals is dedicated to using information from electronic medical records to perform more accurate outcomes and quality research than is possible using currently available information. I am also working with a multi-specialty group at Children's Hospital to develop new ways to collect medical information and present it to clinicians at the time of a clinic visit to enable them to make better decisions about patient care.
There is a practical dimension to medical informatics as well. To make well-informed decisions, clinicians must be able to: gather accurate information; have organized ways to look at whether current practice is safe and effective and how it could be improved; and must have tools to provide the right information when decisions are being made. To help achieve these goals at Children's Hospital, I have committed a significant part of my work to building the Epic electronic health record for care of oncology patients and other acutely ill children at CHOP.
I also serve on the oncology quality improvement and clinical care committees, co-chair the chemotherapy safety committee and represent our group on Children's Hospital’s bloodstream infection steering group and the NACHRI hematology/oncology collaborative for reducing bloodstream infections. Each of these groups is committed to making care of children safer and more reliable. We are finding ways to reduce harm to patients — both errors and side effects of treatment — and improve adoption of practices that have been shown to be more effective.
One of the phrases we use to describe our commitment to our patients is “caring for your child like I would care for my own child.” This sets a high standard, but I believe we would not be justified in seeking anything less. My hope is that through this combination of clinical, research and administrative work I can help to maintain pediatric care for children, not only here at Children's Hospital but elsewhere — at a level I would be happy for my family to receive.