Dr. Robyn Chatman is a Fellow of the American Academy of Family Physicians, a Board Certified in Clinical Informatics Medical Officer for Disaster Medical Assistance Team OH-5, a Delegate to the AMA from Ohio AMA Council on Science and Public Health Certified Physician Executive Certified Professional in Healthcare Information Management Systems. Dr. Chatman is also a Certified Healthcare Emergency Professional and specializes in Health Information Technology, Disaster Medicine, and the Elimination of Healthcare Disparities.

Q: What are your area(s) of expertise in healthcare? 
Dr. Robyn Chatman: My areas of expertise include Clinical Informatics, Addiction Medicine, Public Health and Family Medicine.

Q: How did you become interested in and focused on family medicine?
RC: Family Medicine was the closest specialty to what I saw my grandmother practice.  My grandmother served as the midwife for her small community in Monticello, MS.  She set broken bones, closed deep lacerations, in addition to delivering babies. 

Q: What does family medicine mean?
RC: Family Medicine means caring for the whole patient, considering the socioeconomics surrounding the patient.  Cradle to grave care still applies to Family Medicine, but attention must be given to the patient's social determinants of health.

Q: How does your work interact with the work of the American Medical Association?
RC: Our mission statement says it all: "Our AMA promotes the art and science of medicine and the betterment of public health".  Informatics is my approach to improving the science of medicine by making sure that the data we use has been vetted before it is analyzed to improve the care we deliver to the bedside.  I use my public health training to apply that data to vulnerable populations to make the business case for developing programs that improve clinical outcomes.

Q: Tell us about what you do as a Medical Officer at the US Dept. of Health & Human Services.
RC: I am the Interim Chief Medical Officer for Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT) OH-5. 

DMATs are assets of the Department of Homeland Security under the Assistant Secretary for Emergency Preparedness.  We are deployed in times of need to provide clinical care, similar to an urgent care, to locations where the need for healthcare is greater than the supply of providers.  When we land onsite, we can be up and seeing patients in approximately two hours and are self-sustaining for 72 hours before we need to re-supply.

Q: Explain the importance of interoperability for clinical informatics, EHRs, and how you think interoperability can be accomplished (if you do think so, and if not, why not; what barriers exist?)? 
RC: Interoperability is a critical function because patient information that is not available at the patient bedside is useless.  Every episode of care should be available at the point of care for that patient.  In other words, the patient's data should be wherever the patient is.  The patient's data belongs to the patient.  All the places where the patient's data is generated or stored, are custodians or stewards.   The biggest barrier is that we struggle to find a balance between security and availability.  IT vendors worry about their protecting their intellectual property.  This leads to the need for costly interfaces that create a financial barrier for small practices.  I believe interoperability can be accomplished.  We are making baby steps in that direction.  However, the game changer would require one of two things.  1. A common interface, like USB, that is open source, mandated, supported financially and managed/enforced by an agreed-upon entity (most likely the government) that will allow anyone EHR to connect to any other.  2. A common EHR for all providers that are open-source and mandated with funding for hardware, software, and support.  

The Physician Innovation Network thanks Dr. Chatman for her enthusiastic participation in our network, and for her innovative work in the family medicine space.