UC Davis nursing professor named as fellow in American Medical Informatics Association

UC Davis nursing professor named as fellow in American Medical Informatics Association

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Katherine Kim regarded as “pioneer” in field of medical informatics

Katherine Kim, an assistant professor for the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing, has worked in the field of health informatics for 25 years. To recognize her efforts in applying information science and technology to healthcare, Kim was recently named a fellow of the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA).

Along with 153 other professionals, Kim was inducted at the AMIA 2020 Virtual Clinical Informatics Conference on May 19. These professionals were recognized in the Fellows of AMIA Applied Informatics Recognition Program for their excellence in practicing informatics, according to a press release from the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing.

Founded in 1988, AMIA is a professional scientific association that aims to lead the way in transforming health care through trusted science, education and the practice of informatics. AMIA connects a broad community of professionals and students interested in informatics, said Karen Greenwood, the executive vice president and chief operating officer of AMIA.

Founded in 2018, the Fellows of the American Medical Informatics Association (FAMIA) is a recognition program for members who apply informatics skills and knowledge within their professional setting, Greenwood said via email. 

“Fellows of the FAMIA recognize professionals who apply informatics skills and knowledge towards the goals of enhanced personal and population health, improved organizational performance and learning and individual empowerment in their health care and research,” Kim said. 

Fellows must demonstrate professional achievement, leadership and a sustained commitment to the betterment of AMIA, according to Greenwood.

“To be a fellow, it means that you’ve achieved a certain level of experience and expertise in the application of informatics to healthcare,” Kim said.

Even before she became a professor at the nursing school in 2014, Kim demonstrated professional achievement and leadership. She has led numerous projects studying the use of information technology in improving public health and advancing clinical research, said Stephen Cavanagh, the dean for the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing, via email.

“Dr. Kim is a talented and enthusiastic researcher who has considerable skill in researching and communicating the importance of data in patient care decision making,” Cavanagh wrote.

Much of Kim’s work involves designing and implementing mobile health and digital health technology that help patients and clinicians collaborate in improving healthcare. She is one of two UC Davis faculty members who oversee the UC Davis arm of the National Institutes of Health’s monumental nationwide All of Us Research Program.

“Apart from personal recognition for being an expert in the field of medical informatics, this fellowship also highlights and illustrates the distinguished work that Dr. Kim and her

colleagues are doing both within the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing and UC Davis as a whole,” Cavanagh said. 

Kim not only designs technology systems, but also participates in implementing them within public health. Her systems are used throughout entire countries like Singapore and Thailand and within individual hospital systems. 

“Kathy is hard-working and forward thinking,” said Janice Bell, the associate dean for research and a professor for the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing, via email. “She moves quickly and decisively. She has a lot of disparate interests and a knack for pulling them all together in support of patient-engaged, user-centered technology, design and research.”

As a professor and an entrepreneur, Kim knows how to run both research projects and businesses, said Susan Hull, the chief health information officer of Careloop, who wrote Kim’s recommendation for the fellowship. 

“She’s really pioneering participatory health information technology and experiences to develop new models for health delivery and research,” Hull said.

Some of Kim’s colleagues describe Kim in a similar manner. The complexity and depth of Kim’s background make her unusual in academia, said Jill Joseph, a professor of epidemiology and a physician for the school of nursing. 

“She has a broad application of a very specific interest in assuring that technology is useful and can be used by many groups that are oftentimes not considered,” Joseph said.

This broad range of experience, in addition to her work’s progression over 25 years, made Kim a competitive applicant for the FAMIA fellowship. 

“I could actually demonstrate that I knew what it took to actually have those systems be in the real world,” Kim said. 

She further explained that this fellowship gives her credibility as an expert in health informatics and the ability to share her expertise and research with other contributors in the field. Being surrounded by others trained in informatics who have also applied it in practical settings are some other benefits of this fellowship.

“[It] gives you lots of opportunity to continue learning, and to share what we know with each other,” Kim said. “It’s kind of like being part of a club where people care about the same things that you do, and you get to learn from those people.”

Kim is continuing to work on several research projects in which her team goes out to the community to educate about health informatics. Kim urges undergraduates to become involved, as many students are unfamiliar with the field. 

“Health informatics is a great field that combines all kinds of people,” Kim said. “If you have an interest in technology or information science and care about healthcare or public health, it’s a great field to think about.”

Kim’s team currently studies food security for pregnant women and their families in the Yurok tribe in Northern California. Kim is teaching these people to create home gardens, preserve the food they grow and use technology to evaluate their programs. The team members will also be implementing a subscription food delivery service in their neighborhood for food that cannot be grown in the area. 

“We are helping [the Yurok people] learn what computer tools they need to collect data on this and evaluate whether their program is effective,” Kim said. “We will be teaching them about program evaluation [and] about mobile tools that you can use on a smartphone or a tablet to collect data as you’re out in the field and then how to analyze that.”

Kim’s team is also working on a mobile health system discovery application to collect information about signs and symptoms of COVID-19.

“It’s actually trying to understand […] all the things that are happening in the body when someone’s affected with COVID-19,” Kim said.

Both projects illustrate Kim’s involvement in numerous communities, one reason she was named a FAMIA fellow, according to Hull. 

“[Kim’s] very grounded in communities of practice and with the people who actually need to participate in creating these interventions,” Hull said. “She’s also got this very wide range of leadership on national initiatives that are spanning many years and many people.”

Written by: Margo Rosenbaum — science@theaggie.org