For three decades, Dipti Amin, M.D., has been on a mission to make sure the patients get the best treatment in the safest environment possible.
Born in Nairobi, Kenya, she grew up in East Africa. Her family moved to New York City when she was a teenager. She graduated from the six-year honors medical program at the City College of New York and SUNY at Stony Brook University. Amin completed her pediatric residency at The Babies Hospital in New York City.
So, how does someone so entwined in the medical community in New York end up in St. Petersburg, Florida?
My husband and I made a trip down to Florida and met a good friend who just happened to be working at All Children’s Hospital at the time. During the visit, she mentioned how much she enjoyed working for the hospital.
When I returned home, I was reading Pediatrics and saw an ad listed for an academic pediatrician at All Children’s Hospital. Remembering how highly my friend spoke of the hospital, I thought, why not apply? My husband, who is now medical director of the ICU at Morton Plant Hospital in Clearwater, had just finished pulmonary and critical care training, and we were looking to move out of New York City. We came back down to St. Petersburg for an interview and really liked it here. It reminded me a little bit of Africa. It felt like home here, and I loved the idea of working in a children’s hospital.
Did you always want to become a physician?
I really wanted to do something in social work. I felt motivated to improve the lives of people. It was an incredible math teacher who encouraged me to instead focus on science and mathematics. He set me up to do some volunteering and participate in some research studies that were being done at NYU, so that led me into medicine. The program I was involved in was really focused on primary care within underserved areas.
You are chief medical informatics officer at the hospital. What is medical informatics and how did you end up working in this field?
Medical informatics is the intersection of information science, computer science and health care. This field deals with the resources, devices and methods required to optimize the acquisition, storage, retrieval, and use of information in health and biomedicine, evidence-based medicine and disease management.
Back in 2000, our former chief information officer approached me, knowing I had a hand in implementing and managing our successful after-hours Nurse Triage call center, which was one of the first in the country. At that time, we needed to expand our medical records program and find a new nursing documentation system. He asked me if I was interested in doing that. I thought about it for a while and after he told me it was going to be a clinician-led initiative, I agreed to help put a team together of intensivists, neonatologists, hospitalists, nurses and pharmacists. The team helped select Cerner as our EMR back in 2001.
The role of a chief medical information officer, or a medical informaticist, has evolved quite a bit. A lot has to do with care transformation because there is a difference and probably more standardization of care that’s associated with the electronic medical record. This process is very much a journey and bringing about that change requires some leadership but very much about incorporating ideas from clinical staff. We try to make sure that the EMR is meeting their needs. We are also always looking for ways we can improve it.
What is your typical day like?
For the past nine months, a lot of my time was consumed with the team designing our new medical records system, EPIC, and preparing to take it live. Since then, much of my day is really spent on learning how well we are using it, and what still needs to be improved, and managing new upgrades. I’m very interested in learning how we can improve access for parents to patients’ health information. For years, we focused on our medical staff and nursing staff. I think the emphasis now is about focusing on how our patients are seeing that information and participating in their own care.
I continue to work as a hospitalist as well. In that capacity, I do rotations on the units. I also chair a Diagnosis Review Committee that reviews any delays in diagnosis, and we focus on lessons we can learn and share with our staff. This committee is part of our peer review system.
What’s your favorite part of your job?
One of my medical passions is learning about diagnostic errors and how we can decrease them. I also enjoy being a hospitalist, seeing patients and teaching our residents. In Informatics, I enjoy implementing and improving new functionality.
What’s something people don’t know about you?
My husband and I love to travel. We want to visit as many of the countries in the world as possible. We have been to all of the continents and cannot wait to start travel again.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I love the beach, cooking and enjoy classical music with the Florida Orchestra.
How has COVID-19 impacted you personally and professionally?
Personally, it’s been quite challenging as a family. My husband was very ill with COVID-19 last March, but we were lucky he recovered. We also lost my father-in-law to COVID-19 during the past year.
I think this pandemic has changed all of us. It has made us appreciate a lot more of what we did have and the friendship of all the people outside of work. I can’t say enough positive things about our Johns Hopkins All Children’s community and how things have been handled. They have been so supportive of us. It’s something you recognize even more during these times.
Professionally, I have been struck by the impact of COVID-19 as we provide medical care in the best way possible. There have been some real challenges. It will probably take us several years to recover from it. I’m convinced we are going to come out stronger in the end.