Joanna Abraham, PhD
Associate Professor, Anesthesiology and the Institute for Informatics (I2)
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Dr. Abraham is an Associate Professor in the Department of Anesthesiology and Institute for Informatics at Washington University in St. Louis. She received her PhD from Pennsylvania State University in Information Sciences and Technology and has an interdisciplinary background in computer science, human factors and biomedical informatics. Dr. Abraham’s current research focuses on developing and implementing informatics tools to promote patient safety, and she has led numerous projects on: (a) medication ordering practices; (b) clinical communication and coordination behaviors during care transitions; (c) use of telemedicine and machine learning (ML) to augment perioperative risk identification and mitigation; and (d) shared and distributed cognition for critical care teamwork. Across these domains, Dr. Abraham’s research program targets the development of collaborative systems to deliver coordinated and safer care. Centered on techniques of working “in the clinical wild,” Dr. Abraham’s research translates these findings into applied products that are meaningful for healthcare practice and into novel theoretical and methodological frameworks that drives the direction for applied clinical informatics research.
Her research has led to the implementation of several evidence-based tools (e.g., handoff and rounding tools, discharge transition record, ML-augmented risk prediction reports, perioperative mental health programs,), perioperative telemedicine programs (e.g., within the operating room, intensive care unit, post-anesthesia care unit, and medical floor units), and handoff training programs at multiple hospitals and disseminated in over 60 peer-reviewed publications in leading informatics, safety and clinical journals.
Given her extensive research expertise, Abraham is recognized as a national expert in the fields of handoff safety and medication ordering safety. She serves on the Multi-Center Handoff Collaborative – a national group aiming to create pragmatic, scalable, and sustainable practices to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of handoffs and care transitions – and the Leapfrog National Expert Panel on Computerized Prescriber Order Entry (CPOE) Standards. Her work has also received recognition from the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA), the primary informatics professional society, which recognized her research through a Distinguished Paper Award in 2012, the Diana Forsythe Award in 2010 and 2021 (and finalist for 2022), and the New Investigator Award in 2019.