MPWHIT Spotlight: Singletary expands promise of public health

The director of Public Health Informatics Institute, and one of HDM’s Most Powerful Women in HIT, preaches the possibilities of informatics.

Health Data Management recently announced the honorees in its program to recognize the Most Powerful Women in Healthcare IT. All will be recognized at our event May 17 in Boston. Leading up to that event, HDM editors are highlighting some of the honorees—today, we feature Vivian Singletary, who is Director of the Public Health Informatics Institute.

Name: Vivian Singletary

Title: Director

Organization: Public Health Informatics Institute

Years in HIT: 10

Other key positions: Supply Chain Manager, Public Health Analyst and Director of Information Technology Practice at The Task Force for Global Health.

Current job responsibilities:

Singletary leads the Digital Bridge Initiative to use automated systems to improve communications between providers and public health agencies.

Significant achievements: Singletary oversaw the supply chain to deliver more than $1 billion in antibiotic donations to fight blindness in African and Asian nations. Works with ministries of health to understand their information system needs and determine requirements for a system supporting their work.

Impact on HIT:

A total of 19 of the nation’s largest healthcare stakeholders recently launched the Digital Bridge Initiative in a quest to use automated systems to improve communication between providers and state or local public healthcare agencies.

Leading the charge is Singletary, director of the Public Health Informatics Institute and principal investigator for the project. The institute is a program of the Task Force for Global Health, whose mission is to fight disease and support healthy productive lives for all. The institute is working to automate submission of reportable diseases that should be sent to public health by making electronic health record systems recognize certain diagnostic codes, lab results and prescriptions, and automatically trigger a report to public health, or fall back to the EHR simply triggering a reminder to submit the report.

“Our claim to fame is being system agnostic and working with ministries of health to understand their information system needs and articulate requirements for a system that can support public health,” Singletary says.

“We are very collaborative; people look to us as a secretariat that helps organizations move their initiatives forward. We are known for developing workforce informatics training for public health professionals to advance their public health informatics agenda. This society we live in is an information society and we need to develop technology to bring down costs of care, improve our own health and make healthcare more assessable and affordable to all.”

Singletary advises women seeking to get into public health to not fear being a trailblazer, but to embrace it. “Get out of your comfort zone, challenge yourself and believe you can do it.”

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