The Short Version: Researcher, clinician, teacher, husband, father. Not necessarily in that order.
I’m an ICU doc and a Healthcare Delivery Science researcher at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School in Boston. Before entering medicine, I consulted in materials purchasing workflow analysis and automation for the company which built most of the space shuttle. This longstanding interest in putting the right person in the right place at the right time flowed naturally into my current career, which focuses on improving the value of care for acutely ill patients by blending research-in-the-midst-of-actual-patient-care with operational improvement strategies.
My group tries to answer the question, “How many resources does a sick patient need?” This need varies tremendously and rapidly over time, particularly during acute illnesses. When we fail to provide enough resources, patient outcomes suffer. When we provide more resources than a patient needs, we create waste, not value. Our fundamental goal is to improve value in healthcare by creating knowledge that helps us to understand the exact level of resources that patients and families need right now, and to test systems of care that provide these resources in a highly reliable, reproducible, and generalizable way. To reach this long-term goal, our research focuses on (1) health care quality, (2) quantitative and qualitative assessment of team function, and (3) identification of novel risks for healthcare-acquired complications, with a particular focus on risk prediction. We also spend a fair amount of time look at risk representation, an important problem for public reporting, healthcare policy, and reimbursement issues.
Shala Howell spent two decades helping companies like Bell Labs, Juniper Networks, and a genetic testing company that was later acquired by CVS translate some of the world’s most complicated concepts into actionable, understandable English. Now she turns her attention to a much more complex problem — fostering children’s curiosity and engagement in the scientific, artistic, and linguistic world that surrounds them. Her parenting blog, Caterpickles, has had more than 100,000 visitors over the past five years. The first book in Shala’s Caterpickles Parenting Series, What’s That, Mom?, focuses on how to use public art to nurture children’s curiosity in the world around them. Her next book, Did Dinosaurs Have Belly Buttons?, is currently planned for release in 2018.