Skip to Content
Spotlight on Walden // Jan 21, 2016

Meet a Graduate: Impacting Patients as a Researcher

Imagine you’re in your physician’s office. You have a slew of symptoms to report, but you can barely focus. On top of that, it’s midday and your doctor is late. Remembering to review your medical history isn’t at the forefront of your mind. You know your provider’s office has electronic medical records, so you expect your doctor will have the necessary information at hand.

Once he arrives, your doctor may rush, overlooking a key piece of evidence that was previously reported and relevant to your current condition. Will he see that data immediately? Or would digging for it prevent him from giving you the face-to-face conversation you both prefer?

This is exactly the issue Dr. Kimberly Denney tackled in her doctoral study for her Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) program at Walden. As the vice president of commercial operations at Stanson Health, her duties include overseeing software that sifts through patients’ electronic health records. She knew her company was in a unique position to determine if tweaking the software would help physicians provide better care to their patients.

Findings from her doctoral study confirmed key details that should be included when designing clinical decision support software to better aid physicians as they review electronic medical records. For example, highlighting within the record that a test, medication, or procedure would be more harmful than beneficial will help practitioners and patients make decisions more efficiently. New software alerts under design by Stanson Health will assist physicians by serving up relevant information quickly.

“It’s important that we fully understand the challenges physicians face while working with electronic medical records so we can build the best tools for them,” Dr. Denney explains. “I chose the DBA program because I knew it would lead me to develop practical research we could apply immediately to our product development efforts.” She plans to continue her research, too. “My doctoral research reinforced the value of obtaining user feedback by pinpointing a need to focus on the user’s workflow in the design of our software alerts. We need to get that aspect right so physicians will adopt our new software tools.”

In June, Dr. Denney will present related research findings at the International Conference on Healthcare Informatics and Technology in New Orleans. There, she will address how to improve physician acceptance of software alerts by using closed-loop analytics. “The voluntary participation of physician leaders in my research study demonstrated a high degree of interest in collaborative efforts between third-party software vendors and users to improve the design of these tools,” she explains. “Layering analytics on top of the user’s experience with our software will allow us to return insights to users immediately while enabling us to continuously refine our products.”

For now, though, Dr. Denney is focused on reflecting on all she has accomplished by earning her doctorate. When she attends Walden’s commencement ceremony in Orlando, Florida, on January 30, she sees it as more than a formal, public recognition of her accomplishment as a DBA graduate. “Commencement is an important milestone in my life,” she says. “The DBA is one of my top five achievements, and I plan to celebrate!”

The moment also marks another professional beginning: She was recently appointed as an adjunct faculty member at Grand Canyon University. “Obtaining a graduate-level adjunct teaching post was one of my goals when I started the DBA program,” she explains. “I am especially gratified to see this come through so quickly. In teaching online MBA students about marketing management, I will be able to leverage both my professional experience and my educational experience at Walden to positively impact another generation of business scholars.”