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Award recognizes hands-on contributions to health IT at VUMC

Jun. 9, 2021, 8:45 AM


Chetan Aher, MD, assistant professor of Surgery, and Wael Alrifai, MD, assistant professor of Pediatrics and Biomedical Informatics, are the inaugural winners of the Physician Builder Award, sponsored by the Vanderbilt Clinical Informatics Center (VCLIC). They received trophies made from Lego building blocks and gift certificates.

From left, Adam Wright, PhD, whose Vanderbilt Clinical Informatics Center sponsors the Physician Builder Awards; recipients Wael Alrifai, MD, and Chetan Aher, MD; and Jonathan Wanderer, MD, director of the Physician Builder Program. Photo by Susan Urmy

The eStar Physician Builder Program supports Vanderbilt University Medical Center physicians and other health care team members in devising and implementing new content and tools for VUMC’s health information technology system, eStar.

Alrifai’s award is in recognition of his neonatal sequential organ failure assessment (nSOFA) score calculator. The SOFA score provides an index of how sick a patient is.

“For neonates, Wael created a way to have this score computed in eStar and trended at multiple points over the course of the day, so, as a neonatologist, you can see if a baby you’re taking care of is getting worse or better — very helpful clinically,” said Jonathan Wanderer, MD, associate professor of Anesthesiology and Biomedical Informatics and director of the eStar Physician Builder Program.

Epic Systems Corp., the company that provides the eStar electronic health record, plans to incorporate Alrifai’s calculator as a standard feature.

Aher’s award is in recognition of two contributions: the bariatric procedure pass and the post-operative checklist.

The procedure pass allows teams to easily track surgical weight loss patients as they progress through the elaborate pre-surgical checklist of psychiatric and medical evaluations, endoscopy, medical weight loss trials and insurance approval.

“The process for getting patients through all that wasn’t great, and things sometimes fell through the cracks,” Wanderer said. “The tool helps us keep patients on track towards their surgery.”

Aher’s post-surgical checklist ensures that surgical teams promptly notify VUMC insurance authorization staff when retro-authorization is needed for a procedure.

“We do procedures at times that are different than what we plan to do, because of circumstances that come to light only after the start of surgery, having to do with the patient’s anatomy or the degree of disease,” Wanderer said. “We have to get in touch with the insurer within a certain timeframe or we don’t get paid for that difference, and we often weren’t meeting that bar.”

As an eStar Physician Builder, “You yourself have the technical ability to go into our system and configure it the way that you want it to work,” Wanderer said. “With this program, the big advantage is that you can get folks who already know the medicine really well involved in designing and building new systems features or changes to workflows that help with patient care.”

There are currently 72 participants, including 54 physicians, four nurse practitioners, four PhDs, four RNs, three fellows, a clinical therapist, a nurse anesthetist, a pharmacist and a project manager. The program includes training and certification from Epic and participants are paired with an eStar analyst from Health IT.

“What Jonathan has accomplished with this program is really impressive,” said Adam Wright, PhD, professor of Biomedical Informatics and director of VCLIC. “We proposed sponsoring these new awards to recognize outstanding Physician Builders and highlight some of what’s been accomplished. At VCLIC, we’re fans of good clinical informatics things going on.”

The eStar Physician Builder Program is seeking more participants. Participants normally travel to Epic headquarters in Wisconsin for training, but due to COVID, for a limited time training is being offered over the web. For more information, contact Wanderer.

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