Connections  Career Paths in Biomedical Informatics
Chase R. Parsons, DO, MBI, FAAP
Trained as a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard Medical School

Currently working at Boston’s Children’s Hospital, Chase Parsons splits his time as a pediatric hospitalist, where he sees patients, and as a physician lead for Informatics Prescriber Education and Clinical Decision Support, where he works on projects using clinical informatics to improve quality and safety.

Chase’s Informatics Journey

As far back as Chase can recall, he was interested in technology. He loved video games and editing digital video. In thinking about a possible career, he always envisioned being a doctor, specifically a family physician. He saw a family doctor as providing an ideal combination of science, technology, and interacting with people.

His interest in science led him to study molecular biology in college as part of a pre-med track. Following graduation from Grove City College in 2008 with a Bachelor of Science, Chase attended the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, graduating in 2012 as a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine.

Chase continued his training with a pediatrics residency at Geisinger Health System from 2012 through 2016. It was during this residency that Chase first learned about biomedical informatics. As Geisinger, biomedical informatics was beginning to be used as part of quality initiatives and as part of process measures. Chase saw the potential for the use of data in healthcare to make more informed decisions that could improve patient care.

This exposure to informatics made Chase want to learn more, as the practical application of biomedical informatics matched his interests of technology and patient care. This caused Chase to look into clinical informatics fellowships across the country, end up at Boston Children’s Hospital and as part of the Masters program in Biomedical Informatics (MBI) at Harvard Medical School.

When imagining the biomedical informatics program at HMS, Chase was excited about interacting with others who were equally excited about both caring for patients and having a positive impact on the entire healthcare system.

Important memories from his biomedical informatics program include: participating in a sort of boot camp on basics, which included learning to program in R, a statistical programming language that is unfamiliar to most doctors; wrestling with problems such as how to get patient data into electronic health records; learning how to work with large data sets; and developing expertise in data visualization.

In addition, Chase feels that he gained broad exposure to healthcare beyond just its clinical aspects, including policy and business aspects. As a result of completing his fellowship and MBI program in 2018, Chase now feels “informatics informed” in that he is comfortable and confident in using data to solve important problems.

“I have a unique set of knowledge that most people across the country or world don’t have.”

Using Informatics for Impact

Upon completing his fellowship and Masters in Biomedical Informatics, Chase became an Instructor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and Physician Lead for Informatics Prescriber Education and Clinical Decision Support at Boston Children’s Hospital, where he is today.

As a practicing physician, Chase continues to make rounds where he sees patients each day, speaks with them, and develops relationships.

But his expertise in biomedical informatics allows him to work as part of a team that is developing and disseminating practice guidelines to improve how care is delivered. Chase’s team is using data to prevent alert overload for clinicians and is optimizing processes within the hospital’s electronic health record to improve the patient discharge process. In this way, informatics enables Chase to have a broader impact on the healthcare system and on patient care.

In particular, Chase’s research interests are patient confidentiality and how pediatric patients interact with their own health data in the electronic health record.

Chase recounted that “The most rewarding thing is when I am part of a team that makes a change that affects either our patients or doctors . . . and I hear that people are happy with the change and say, ‘It’s easier for me to take care of my patients now’ or ‘I gave my patient the right antibiotic the other day because of that app that your team helped deploy across the hospital. That’s the most rewarding thing that’s happened so far.”

“What makes me most excited is that the work I do will directly affect both patients and clinicians . . . to think that you’re touching patients, not just the ones that you’re seeing, but touching patients that your colleagues are seeing in another location. I think that’s really cool.”

Trainee information current as of 2019.