2021 Faculty Feature: Rebecca Meehan, Ph.D.
Catch up with Assistant Professor Rebecca Meehan. Her diverse interests—in gerontology and technology, among other fields—have combined to make her an expert in health information technology and a rich asset to the Kent State faculty. Here, she speaks about her background and current research, her favorite parts of teaching and life away from classes, and her encouragement for students to go beyond classes in the iSchool.
What classes are you teaching for Kent State’s School of Information?
Spring 2021: UXD 60001 User Experience Design Principles and Concepts. Fall 2021: HI 60414 Human Factors and Usability in Health Informatics
What would you like us to know about your professional background and areas of focus?
After earning my doctorate in medical sociology and gerontology from Case Western Reserve University, I spent many years conducting applied research in hospitals and long-term care facilities, sponsored by grants from the National Institute of Health. I was part of teams looking at the influence of the social and physical environment on persons with dementia, the impact of a forced disruption in a doctor-patient relationship based on insurance changes, and the user experience of staff and residents of long-term care facilities who were using a new motion-sensor technology to prevent falls, get help when needed and to preserve resident privacy.
Throughout my work, I always had an interest in technology and what it can mean to the end-user. So I made a change and took a job in industry. I met great people and learned so much! I worked in product management, user experience and usability research for an enterprise-level software company serving a global market. My focus areas now bring together my past worlds by exploring ways to improve usability in health information technology (e.g., electronic health records, mobile health), and measuring ways in which this improves patient safety outcomes and creates less burden on clinicians. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to teach and continue my research here at Kent State in the School of Information!
What projects and research have you been working on lately?
I’m evaluating the process of how both hospitals and electronic health record (EHR) developers work to improve the EHR, mitigating errors in order to improve patient safety outcomes.
I’m working with an interdisciplinary team here at Kent State to develop a digital language identifier, called STREAMTM (patent pending). The tool uses an artificial intelligence algorithm to listen to a speaker and determine what language is being spoken.
I’m also working with the Health Information & Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Health App Guidelines Workgroup to improve usability of mobile health apps.
What’s your favorite part of teaching?
The students are amazing people! Teaching also gives me an opportunity to learn more about a topic as it changes, and about new ways to look at the issues.
Do you have a favorite teaching moment?
The “a-ha” moment when course material makes sense, and they get it! I am energized by students who are curious and inspired by courses or certain course topics. All of us get better in these moments!
How have your professional experiences influenced your teaching?
This is a huge influence for me! I often talk in class about how concepts in information science, health informatics and user experience design are actually used in the workplace, whether in hospitals, home environments or software companies. I talk about the “reality” of working in the job.
What issues related to information interest you most?
I am most interested in using information to help people in need, to answer big questions, and to improve the quality of our lives. I am also interested in making information more accessible, verifiable, and actionable by improving usability or the user experience.
If you could choose to have one superpower, what would it be?
How do you like to spend time outside of work?
I love being with my family, cooking and walking in beautiful places.
What’s your advice for students?
Take advantage of all of the amazing courses, events and research going on in the School of Information here at Kent State! Look at other School of Information courses you can take as electives to try something new and allow yourself to learn more about other ways of managing and working with information.
What else would you like people to know?
Please know what an amazing community of talented students, faculty and staff you have here at the School of Information! These extraordinary people here at Kent State University continue to impress me and inspire me.
Expand your influence on healthcare.
Join innovators working daily to make healthcare information procedures safe, secure and user-friendly for providers and patients. Earn the online master's degree or postbaccalaureate certificate in Health Informatics from Kent State.