TIGER Community Career Profile: Beth L. Elias

How did you get started in informatics? 

My path to informatics began in the late 70's when my older brother gave me his old Texas Instruments calculator.  As I was learning how to use it I had an epiphany. It occurred to me that someday computers would impact virtually every aspect of our lives. I decided then and there that I wanted to be a part of that. That week I changed my undergraduate major to Computer Science and have never looked back.  It’s been an exciting and fascinating path, I feel fortunate to have walked it.

What motivated you to venture into informatics?

Informatics is a natural progression from Computer Science. It allows me to focus on what we can use the technology for and how it can be used to the greatest benefit. My interest in working with healthcare information technology grew out of listening to the experiences of healthcare providers and feeling that we had opportunities to design and build better tools for them, tools that would support them in their work to care for their patients. Incorporating HIT into patient care and the work of the healthcare organization should not be a negative experience.

Any valuable lessons learned along the way?

The most valuable lesson I learned came out of working with Nurses and seeing them interact with healthcare information technology. I came to understand that the stereotype of nurses as being technology averse could not be more wrong. Nurses can and will immediately adopt any technology that will help them take better care of their patients. They are a highly technical profession and are certainly not techno-phobic.  If nurses are resisting adoption of a particular HIT tool or developing workarounds then we need to take a closer look to see what opportunities we have to improve things.

About the Author

Dr. Elias is currently an Associate Professor at the School of Nursing teaching advance practice nurses about Health Informatics. She completed her PhD in Instructional Technology at the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia with a research focus on User Satisfaction with Healthcare Information Systems, a MS in the Management of Information Technology from the McIntire School of Commerce at UVa and a BS in Computer Science from the State University of New York Institute of Technology. Prior to returning to graduate school, Dr. Elias worked as a Computer Systems Engineer primarily in healthcare.  From 2014 to 2016 she served as a committee member for the Health Information Systems Society (HIMSS) User Experience Committee and currently serves on the HIMSS TIGER committee.