Pre-med student Doug Fridsma didn't know much about programming when he applied for a job developing medical databases to help pay his way through college. But he persuaded a roommate to show him how to sign onto the university's computer system and ultimately talked his way into the position, which involved creating a version of the DRGs used for Medicare payments to be applied to pediatrics. He paid for med school with programming and consulting fees, but didn't get any formal informatics training until he was doing his residency at Stanford. Though trained as an internist, he stopped seeing patients when he arrived at the ONC in 2009. "I enjoy seeing patients, but if I want to make a contribution, I can do it one patient at a time or do something that helps a lot of patients," he says. By spearheading implementation of the HITECH Act, he's potentially helping all patients. HDM caught up with him at this year's IHE Connectathon, where the ONC tested a "federated provider directory" to facilitate secure direct messaging among providers no matter where they are. Below, he talks about what's on his mind.
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