How one physician amplifies her impact by working for an EHR company

By Swathi D | March 30, 2023

How one physician amplifies Kathy Rokavec

Dr. Kathy Rokavec is a changemaker. A physician with 25 years of experience, she is also a full-time consultant at athenahealth, part-time volunteer physician at a non-profit, lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve, and a singer/guitarist who regularly performs local gigs. By imparting her invaluable knowledge to athenahealth’s product and sales teams, the influence of her healthcare expertise has been nothing but substantial. Making a difference seems to be her life’s mantra and the motivation behind her shifting gears from clinical practice to healthcare information technology (HIT).

Leaving clinical practice to work in healthcare technology is not an easy decision to make, especially as a physician who has served the community closely for more than two decades. What compelled you to change tracks?

Healthcare is really broken, and it's getting more broken every day. I realized I can't change much by continuing to participate in the way things were on the frontlines of healthcare. To change it, I needed to partake in fixing healthcare.

Being a part of the healthcare technology world and having an impact in the grander scheme of things by working with prospects, customers, product teams, sales teams, and the other solution consultants — it’s just extremely fulfilling.

Can you give an example of the difference in the scale of impact you have right now, as solution consultant, as opposed to your time as a full-time physician?

One of my key responsibilities as a solution consultant here at athenahealth is helping people who are instrumental in the making of our products understand how doctors think. I recently had the opportunity to address 200 members from the athenaClinicals team. In such meetings, I get to be a resourceful person who has an impact on a product as it’s being developed. I can be helpful in the introduction of a feature — could be as small as a new button on a mobile application — which might end up making the patient and provider experience a whole lot better. As a full-time physician, I would have probably seen two or three patients in the same amount of time, which, sure, would have been fruitful. But now I have the ability to touch so many lives, just in a less direct manner, because one additional function can make a sizeable difference in patient experience. And to me, that’s just a brilliant use of time!

Let’s talk about patient experience. How do you think better, more intuitive interoperability    will change the patient experience and healthcare system for the better?

If you had asked me this question 10 years ago, I would have most probably told you about interoperability being an unnecessary innovation — how patients don’t know what to do with their health data, how it’s the doctor’s job to take charge of it and act on it all on our own. But now I’ve come to realize that interoperability helps us doctors educate our patients throughout the treatment process, which in turn helps them make better, more informed decisions. I believe that’s in the very essence of a doctor’s role – being a teacher.

What brought you to athenahealth, and not any other HIT company?

It really comes down to one word, and that's value. When I kicked-off my career as a consultant, I used to work for another popular HIT corporation in a similar role to what I have here. But I soon started finding that less satisfying than expected. I was just an employee in my previous company, whereas at athenahealth, I am a valued member who is given opportunities to work with some important people who profoundly contribute to this world. I was also, and I still am, enamored with the whole vision of it.


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