Dr. Meredith Josephs’ official title at Privia is Senior Medical Director and Senior Director, Clinical IT & Training. In that role, she manages two functions critical to the way Privia’s clinicians run their practices and record data; clinical workflow training, which empowers providers to optimize their use of Privia’s EHR; and Clinical IT, which encompasses setting up Privia care centers in the system, configuring the EHR to support evidence-based practice, and incorporating other technology solutions to facilitate treatment at the point of care.
Her unofficial title, however, might be better described as a clinical informatics visionary. Meredith’s experience at the center of technology and clinical knowledge gives her a unique perspective that places her right at the juncture of where providers often need the most guidance. “Anywhere there is an intersection of clinical information and electronic use of that information, that’s where I come into play” she says. She’s also forward thinking, considering and improving ways in which current technology can be more intuitive for physicians.
Dr. Josephs came to Privia in 2014 after practicing as a physician of family medicine for 16 years and leaving her position of 12 years as Chief Medical Officer at La Clinica del Pueblo, a Washington, D.C.- based community health center. She went on to attend Oregon Health & Science University where she earned a graduate certificate in biomedical informatics, a subspecialty of medicine that focuses on information technology and how it can be applied to the healthcare field.
Now Board Certified in both Family Medicine and Clinical Informatics, she still regards herself a physician by training, profession, and experience, which attunes her to the needs of Privia’s physicians. Her firsthand knowledge of clinicians’ concerns affords her the ability to collaborate fluidly with other teams at Privia, like the Population Health and Product Engineering teams, to create processes and workflows conducive to how providers actually work.
Dr. Joseph’s team takes work off the plate of Privia physicians, who would otherwise need to devote time and resources to improve upon the out-of-the-box EHR software platform. Providers’ suggestions for improvements to the EHR go through the National Clinical IT Advisory Council, a committee comprised of PCPs and specialists. In collaboration with Meredith’s team, technology solutions are then inserted into the workflow of the EHR to enhance the care experience.
Dr. Josephs is also passionate about the future of clinical decision support and intrigued by the possibilities of combining it with Natural Language Processing to improve the way that doctors describe patients’ ailments in EHRs. She describes the current technology available to providers as unnatural. “A lot of current systems require clinical data entry be done by clicking boxes or phrases when what doctors like to do is tell stories about patients,” says Meredith.
“Instead we have to make incremental click, click, clicks to say that a patient is 33 years old and that she takes vitamins.”
She describes the ideal system of the future as something that will be able to extract information from what’s typed or spoken into an EHR and make clinical recommendations based on that data. “So if a doctor puts in an allergy to penicillin, if a year from now the doctor prescribes it, the platform will suggest another more appropriate medication in terms of tolerability and cost for the patient.” The complexity of both medical care and medical terminology are current barriers to this level of precision, but Dr. Josephs imagines a world where platforms will better help doctors diagnose, communicate with, and treat their patients in this more intuitive way.
Though she acknowledges that clinical informatics has a long way to go before the technology is responsive to the complex needs of physicians, Meredith’s in it for the long haul. As a practicing physician herself, she understands their frustrations. “I have a desire to improve the technology so that it works to take the burden off the doctor and improves outcomes. For me, it really all comes down to helping to facilitate a strong bond between the doctor and patient. That’s the most important goal.”