TIGER Community Career Profile: Stephen C. Burrows

At times I think my journey in informatics is unique though I know I’m wrong after meeting many of my colleagues in the field. Oddly, I think my roots in informatics reach back to my childhood and my fascination with the Science Fiction genre. I still remember being completely enthralled by the technology in use on Star Trek, Buck Rogers or Logan’s Run (am I dating myself?)  or any of the other television programs or big screen movies during the 1970s and 1980s. How cool the future looked!

After college I earned my Doctor of Podiatric Medicine degree and begin work in that clinical field. While seeing patients, I can still remember thinking there must be a better way to document than on paper, especially since my handwriting wasn’t always legible! Electronic Health Records were only in hospitals at that time and not commonplace in the ambulatory sector. I remember hearing of the (relatively new) field of informatics and started doing some research. With a great interest in technology coupled with my clinical experience, I shifted from a full-time private practitioner to being part of the clinical systems team at the local hospital and into the field of informatics. That was over 16 years ago and have enjoyed the work immensely. Having found the unique niche of understanding both the clinical realm and technology field made me able to communicate with the clinicians in their native language and often put them at ease knowing I knew ‘the lingo’.

In addition to the time I spent at that local hospital, I expanded my experiences to include healthcare software vendor, quality improvement consulting, a broader role at a local hospital and finally to my current positon at Sacred Heart University. I am grateful to have the opportunity to help shape, educate, and prepare the next generation of Healthcare Informaticists who will continue the great work that’s being done today.

I realized through the years that the role of informatics is a critically important one. I came to realize through the design, implementation, and support of clinical systems, we impact the clinicians who use the systems we support have a tremendous indirect impact on the safety and quality of care of many patients.

About the Author

Stephen C. Burrows, DPM, MBA, CPHIMS, FHIMSS is Chair & Program Director Healthcare Informatics, Sacred Heart University