I first heard the word cancer when I was twelve – back then cancer was a word we whispered in hushed tones; it demanded respect and was not to be angered. Cancer was more questions than answers, it was more liminal than definitive. It was a series of listless pauses between tests and checkups and scans. A capricious captor, holding you and your loved ones with cruel and cunning hands – as though cells and blood could be spiteful.
A decade later as a fellow at MD Anderson Cancer Center, I met my first patient, a 14-year-old boy with the most vibrant soul – and pelvic sarcoma. I will never forget the day he was informed that after five years of treatment, it was time to transition to palliative care. I understood then that cancer does not barter with courage and my patient empathy outweighed the objectivity needed to remain on the front lines of cancer care. Still, I felt deeply connected to the field of healthcare generally and oncology specifically, so I refocused my career path.
I once read that passion is what gets you started, and purpose is what keeps you going but finding a job that allows you to do both is how you build a career. As an empath and a problem solver by nature, I find the complexity of patient care, innovative data-driven technology, and perpetual optimism to be a few of the multitude of reasons why I am proud to be on Ontada’s Clinical Informatics Team.
Today’s medicine sits at the intersection of expectation and limitation while Clinical Informatics (CI) sits at the intersection of the clinical paradigm and technology ecosystem. As a Clinical Informatician, I rely on my oncology experience and technical ability to define clinical concepts and manage standard data, transforming it into actionable information. This proprietary clinical content is supported by Ontada’s technology ecosystem and used by providers to interpret results, diagnose patients, prescribe medications, select treatment plans and more.
Clinical Informatics prides itself on getting content right to enable high fidelity precision medicine insights into Ontada’s clinical software, including iKnowMed and Clear Value Plus (CVP). The team understands that timely delivery of valuable clinical decision support and a unique user experience in an interactive format affects the quality of patient care and can help improve patient outcomes.
In other words, imagine a bowl of soup: Software develops “the bowl” and Clinical Informatics codes “the soup”, adding our special spices to create Ontada’s secret family recipe! But it would not be possible without the quality assurance team to make sure it tastes great, the product team ensuring our recipe evolves over time and the support team to help us if we lose power mid-simmer.
This kind of enterprise-wide, interdepartmental collaboration and personalization is at the heart of what matters most to our vision. The more you understand the people you aim to serve, the more you can customize their experience. It excites me to work in the heart of it all, amid the rapid acceleration of technology in tandem with the ever-evolving demand for what clinicians need to know as medicine becomes more precise.
Each day, the brightest minds in our field collaborate and innovate on how we will leave this world better than when we entered it. We think big, start small, scale fast and know that magic happens through diversity of thought, ability, culture, and background. As one team, we are leading the improvement of patient care.
It feels like a deeply human endeavor to empower others through technology with the ultimate end point being our shared why – the patient. There is only challenging work, conviction, love, and persistent, breathless waiting. There is only now, and the fight we bring to each new day. As one team, Ontada is committed to making a difference in the lives of serendipitous people weathering the hardships and challenges of this disease, together.
My career is simply about harnessing the power of disparate disciplines to create hope.