Dr. Meghan Dierks is Assistant Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, in the Division of Clinical Informatics at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston MA. She also holds a position of Director of Clinical Systems Analysis at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. In these roles, Dr. Dierks conducts a broad range of both operational and research activities in the areas of Clinical Systems Analysis, Risk Analysis, Decision Analysis and Human Factors Engineering (emphasis on Cognitive Engineering and Macroergonomics). This work is highly cross-disciplinary, applying analytical and theoretical principals from the fields of systems engineering, computer science, cognitive science and decision theory to understand risk and performance in complex socio-technical clinical systems. In her research, she often uses modeling and simulation to explore the dynamic aspects of risk: how the probability of specific outcomes, both favorable and adverse, varies as a function of complex, time-dependent sequences of events and resource inter-dependencies.
Dr. Dierks’ research has been supported through a number of NIH, AHRQ and philanthropic foundation grants. In recent projects, Dr. Dierks has studied:
- Access to, utilization, flow and reliability of information for clinical situation awareness, prediction, planning and decision-making;
- Impact of high information loads, significant noise:signal ratios and procedural and patient-based uncertainty on clinical performance;
- Dependencies on technology to support situation awareness and recognition of clinical change in clinical acuity;
- Use of design controls to enhance reliability in healthcare IT;
- Negative and positive impact of technology – how well new technologies integrate into (or disrupt) existing clinical environments – and how the new technologies influence safety and performance.
- Cyclic variations in staffing levels, patient acuity and its influence on adverse events;
The output of this research is new predictive models of risk based on properties of the clinical environment (e.g., staffing ratios, access to information, time of day, physical properties, resource availability, scheduling).
Dr. Dierks has been an invited lecturer on these topics in a number of national and international forums. Most recently, she was invited to speak at a workshop on Medical Device software safety supported by the U.S.-China Standards and Conformity Assessment Cooperation Program (SCACP)
Training and Previous Key Positions: Dr. Dierks is a board certified general surgeon who trained at Washington University, St. Louis, MO and the Lahey Clinic, Burlington, MA. She completed the Harvard-MIT Program in BioMedical Informatics supported by an NLM-training grant and was the Douglas Porter Fellow in Informatics at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. She has a baccalaureate degree from Brown University, and an MD from the University of Texas Health Science Center – Houston. In addition to her academic position at Harvard Medical School, she has been a Visiting Scholar and Research Affiliate at MIT, and is Adjunct Faculty at the University of Maryland’s Division of Reliability Engineering.
She is a former Executive Medical Director for GE Healthcare IT where she provided clinical input to design controls and was responsible for risk analysis for Healthcare IT. In her role as Executive Medical Director, Dr. Dierks also held a leadership role in clinical research operations across all of GE Healthcare.
Dr. Dierks spent three years with the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health working on a range of cross-departmental projects under the Deputy Director that focused on risk analysis, mitigation and strategic planning around medical devices shortages.
She is a former consultant to the Harvard Risk Management Foundation.
Dr. Dierks is an ad hoc reviewer for the following journals:
- International Journal of Medical Informatics
- Quality & Safety in Health Care (QSHC)
- IEEE Transactions on Systems, Man and Cybernetics
- Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Proceedings
- International System Safety Society Proceedings
- Journal of the American College of Surgeons
- Probabilistic Safety Assessment and Management Proceedings
She has been an active member of the following professional organizations:
- American Medical Informatics Society
- Human Factors and Ergonomics Society
- Society for Technology in Anesthesia
- Society for Medical Simulation
- International Association for Probabilistic Safety Assessment and Management
- System Safety Society
Qualitative Models: Information Flow, Decision Making, Risk Archetypes, Regulatory Control, Policy Resistance, Healthcare Information Technology Design Controls/Safety, Clinical System Complexity Metrics, etc.