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Horst takes on new roles in advancing digital health

Oct. 13, 2022, 9:15 AM


by Leigh MacMillan

Sara Horst, MD, MPH
Sara Horst, MD, MPH

Sara Horst, MD, MPH, associate professor of Medicine, has been named associate vice chair for Digital Health Operations for the Department of Medicine and assistant chief for Clinical Informatics for the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition.

The appointments recognize Horst’s expertise in advancing digital health technologies, including telehealth in the inpatient and outpatient arenas, interaction with patients within My Health at Vanderbilt, and E-consults. Since March, Horst has been serving as the medical director for Telehealth Ambulatory Services for Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

“We are at an age in medicine where we increasingly have to embrace digital technologies to effectively deliver health care,” said W. Kimryn Rathmell, MD, PhD, the Hugh Jackson Morgan Professor of Medicine and chair of the department. “Sara Horst is exactly the right person to guide our department in developing and applying those technologies to the benefit of patient care. She is a thoughtful and creative clinician, with a real knack for digital solutions. We are lucky to be able to have her lead the way.”

Horst, a gastroenterologist, joined the Vanderbilt faculty in 2011 and treats patients with inflammatory bowel disease and other digestive disorders.

She received a 2022 Physician Builder Award in recognition of her significant hands-on contributions to devising and implementing new content and tools for VUMC’s Health IT system, eStar.

Horst has focused on efforts to enhance and streamline patient care, for example with automatic updates to colonoscopy surveillance intervals based on polyp findings; eStar express lanes that simplify workflow; summary views that combine a patient’s labs, procedures and radiology tests; and workflows to support telehealth sessions.

In her new roles, Horst will continue with efforts to assist with improvements for the patient and provider experience within the electronic medical record (EMR), she said.

She will also serve as a Health IT Clinical Director, providing input on the analysis, design and development of Health IT projects.

“While it is a powerful tool, EMR interaction can lead to frustration,” Horst said. “We have an extremely strong Health IT infrastructure that works very hard to try to make this better for us and our patients. I am excited to join the team to be part of the work to make it better.”

For the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, Horst said she will continue her work to enhance EMR workflows, advance current Health IT initiatives, and think more broadly about how to improve clinical research and quality improvement using the EMR.

“We are beyond ecstatic that Sara will be leading this bold, new and exciting initiative within our division,” said Richard Peek, MD, Mina Cobb Wallace Professor of Immunology and director of the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition. “She is a true Renaissance academician, excelling in every facet of her career but doing so with a great sense of equanimity. I am very proud of the role model and physician leader she has become and look forward to the new directions she will take our division.”

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