The Accelerating Excellence In Translational Science (AXIS)Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science

Dr. Robert A. Jenders

The Los Angeles Data Resource (LADR, pronounced “ladder”) is a new and ongoing project to promote clinical and data sharing among organizations in Los Angeles County. To make this happen, researchers from Charles Drew University are working with other hospital and research organization members of UCLA’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI). “It is an attempt to create a de-identified set of clinical data that could be used for research purposes,” explains Dr. Robert Jenders, one of the projects’ key contributors and the Co-Director of the Center for Biomedical Informatics at CDU. The project fits well with Dr. Jenders’ overall goals as a researcher. “Better decision making and better health outcomes using computer technology—I would say that’s my main motivator.”

Robert A. Jenders, MD, MS, FACP, FACMI, is also a Professor of Medicine at CDU, as well as a faculty member in the Department of Medicine at UCLA. Much of Dr. Jenders’ research focuses on questions of knowledge representation and health information technology, specifically in the context of electronic health record systems. An elected fellow of the American College of Physicians and the American College of Medical Informatics, as a general internist he teaches and provides clinical care at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.

A graduate of Marquette University with a BS degree in computer science, Dr. Jenders received his MD degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he also completed his internship and residency in medicine. He completed a National Library of Medicine fellowship in medical informatics at Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital while also obtaining a MS degree in computer science at Northeastern University. Previously a faculty member at Columbia University and later at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, in 2012 he came to CDU and UCLA from Washington D.C., where he practiced and taught at Georgetown University and was a staff scientist at the National Library of Medicine, part of the National Institutes of Health. “I’m quite excited to be at Charles Drew,” he declares. “I think we have world-class researchers here in a very rich research environment.”

Dr. Jenders sees biomedical informatics as perfect way to combine his two main academic interests: health science and computer programming. Much of his work has centered on clinical decision support systems. “Clinical decision support is a collection of technologies and processes that’s dedicated to providing people with knowledge and tools for making better decisions related to health care,” he explains. This could come in multiple forms, for example, a reminder arising when an electronic records system is used by a clinician, a secure email message or fax, or an application on a smartphone. Dr. Jenders gives an example of how these systems can improve patient health: “We know from research that reminders to clinicians at the time of a patient visit will increase the rate at which mammograms and vaccinations are ordered in eligible situations.” Much of his work has focused on the underlying engineering of these systems, creating and maintaining standards for representing the knowledge conveyed to the decision maker.

In the future, Dr. Jenders plans to focus his research on consumer-directed clinical decision support, and he is actively pursuing grants in this area. He notes that the communities CDU serves could benefit from this kind of technology, which could help individuals manage their own health and health care.

In January 2013 Dr. Jenders and his coauthors were awarded the prestigious 2012 Health and Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Book of the Year Award. They received the award for their book, Improving Outcomes with Clinical Decision Support: An Implementer’s Guide. Dr. Jenders explains, “My coauthors and I hoped to leverage our research and operational experience in computer-based clinical decision support in order to provide comprehensive, practical advice to small and large healthcare organizations as well as individual practitioners regarding how to use this technology.”