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The Patient is Waiting: Kimberly Schaefer Puts Her Award in Nursing Informatics to Work

June 1, 2012 — “This is the perfect job for me. I absolutely love what I do“, said Kimberly Schaefer, Industry Solutions Practice Manager for Healthcare at AT&T. Schaefer’s career has followed an organic evolution, beginning in pharmaceutical sales where she quickly developed a passion for diabetes management. Although her bachelor’s degree from Temple University was in Journalism sequence in Advertising with a minor in Political Science, Schaefer’s interest in health care led her to pursue a second bachelor’s degree, this time in nursing.

Schaefer was the recipient of the College’s Nursing Informatics Award in 2009, the year that she completed Drexel’s Accelerated Career Entry (ACE) BSN program. “Drexel validated and furthered a knowledge base that I was already developing in pharmaceuticals,” she said. Schaefer found the transition from the industry into nursing and then into technology innovation to be natural. She shared that she wishes more students would think creatively about what they can do with nursing degrees. “Most people think that, if you’re a nurse, that means you have to be out on the floor,” Schaefer said, “but there are so many other areas where nurses are needed.” In fact, she divulged that the pharmaceutical and medical device industries are actively seeking nurses, often turning away candidates who don’t have nursing degrees.

Pfizer Parke-Davis, one of the several companies for whom Schaefer worked before joining AT&T, had an aphorism that she continues to think about and identify with: “The patient is waiting.” Schaefer believes that every effort should circle back to the patient, their needs, and their convenience with a focus on patient empowerment. Two other organizations for whom she has worked- Medtronic and Dexcom- also design patient-centered products. Medtronic, the leading producer of insulin pumps in the United States, approached her, which was an ideal fit for Schaefer and her interest in diabetes management technology. Likewise, Dexcom- the current forerunner in Continuous Glucose Monitoring systems for people living with diabetes- gave Schaefer additional insight into the diabetic patient lifestyle.

The College’s ACE Program appealed to Schaefer because of its length and name recognition. She also knew of Drexel’s reputation as a tech-savvy institution. With a rare combination of credentials, hands-on experience, and an award in nursing informatics, she was sought out by AT&T via the professional networking site LinkedIn. Schaefer says that her role at the company is a perfect fit.

Today, Kimberly Schaefer’s career is nearing its pinnacle. A clinical expert in the areas of telehealth, virtual care, remote patient monitoring and HIPAA compliance for clinical messaging, Schaefer is leading efforts to create a health information exchange platform that allows health professionals, patients and patient caretakers to securely communicate through text messages and digital interfacing. She is supporting the launch of a cell phone coaching platform- an initiative between AT&T and WellDoc- that combines the DiabetesManager application and feedback engine with AT&T's highly-secure hosting environment, support and customer care. This is an FDA-approved application that is showing powerful results. In a study published by Diabetes Care magazine, patients who added the DiabetesManager to their usual care had an average decline in A1C of 1.9 percentage points, significantly reducing their risk for developing the long term complications associated with diabetes.

Schaefer is a leader to watch as we move further into an age where paper patient history files become obsolete and in-office health care visits are supplemented with tele-visits. Her patient-centered approach, dedication to keeping information secure, and unique balance of curiosity, clinical knowledge and industry experience have made Kimberley Schaefer a nursing informatics pacesetter. Not only is the patient waiting, but we are waiting, too, to see what the telehealth visionary will accomplish next.

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