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Spotlight on: Charles Chambers

Spotlight on: Charles Chambers

Innovator spotlight |
Charlie Chambers
Charlie Chambers , MCIT

Senior Developer, Center for Practice Transformation

Senior Developer, Center for Practice Transformation, University of Pennsylvania Department of Radiology

Where there’s data, there’s a chance to do something neat with it – and Charles (Charlie) Chambers is considering the possibilities. 

“We’ve got a whole bunch of data both in radiology and the electronic medical record,” says Chambers. “I like to think: What are the best uses for it? How can we bring value with the data we have?”

This opportunity-oriented mentality drives the efforts of Chambers and his colleagues at the Department of Radiology’s Center for Practice Transformation (CPX), who strive to improve care delivery for radiology patients and clinicians and enhance resident training. 

Software projects make up most of the CPX portfolio. Chambers, a senior developer, brings these solutions to life by creating and maintaining databases for the department, retrieving information, and developing digital mechanisms that leverage data to facilitate changes in care.

Take LiveAware, for example, a platform created by the CPX team to increase imaging-based screening rates among patients at risk for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), the most common type of liver cancer in adults.

The traditional process to identify patients eligible for HCC screening requires busy primary care physicians (PCPs) to consider more than 20 risk factors and take recurring action. But with software written by Chambers and his team, much of that process can be automated. “We are scanning the database behind the medical record to locate the small group of patients that should be getting liver ultrasounds every six months,” Chambers explains. “And if they don’t have orders and they’re coming to a PCP appointment soon, the platform automatically pends an order for 40 years’ worth of ultrasounds so that PCPs can, with two clicks, get their patient set up for lifetime screening.” 

LiveAware has led to substantially more screening orders being placed. It is in use at several Penn Medicine practices and awaits approval to expand across the primary care service line. At the same time, Independence Blue Cross is funding efforts to implement the LiveAware patient identification process at other health systems in the region. The team is also working to extend the model to applications such as lung cancer screening, mammography, and influenza vaccination.

Other projects benefiting from Chambers’ touch include a dashboard that apprises emergency care providers on the status of their patients’ scans and a results-tracking engine that identifies patients who need follow-up based on findings noted in radiological reports. Another program running on software he wrote, PreAct, has boosted genetic testing among ovarian cancer patients, the results of which can determine the best course of treatment.

“Charlie is one of the most intelligent, thoughtful, and insightful people I know,” says Darco Lalevic, development and innovation lead at CPX. “While you can find many skilled developers, it is rare to find one with the problem-solving and creative skills Charlie has. It’s that technical prowess with inventive analytical ability that drives innovation and why Charlie is such a valued member of our team.”

Before joining CPX and the health care sector five years ago, Chambers earned a master’s degree in computer and information technology and worked for a human resources consulting company, where he wrote software to aid with employee communication around specialized transitions. Prior to that, he held jobs in museum education at the Franklin Institute, Philadelphia Zoo, and Henry Ford Museum – fitting workplaces for someone so enthusiastic about learning. He is currently pursuing a second master’s, this time in health care innovation.

At CPX, Chambers values his team – “the best people in the world” – and the opportunities to be creative. “I really like the clean sheets of a new project, when you’re imagining all the things it could become and how you’re going to tackle it. And when we start to bring it to life, seeing where it leads, what cool things you could add to it – and how it all shakes out.”

Chambers nurtures his curiosity at home, too: He uses a 3D printer to create “little things that are interesting,” like the lid of a Tic Tac box he’s modifying to shoot candies. In another project, he takes data from FlightAware, an airplane tracking service, and uses it to indicate with a laser pointer where a nearby plane should be.

When he’s not tinkering, Chambers is cheering on Arsenal Football Club. He’s a leader of the local supporters group and loves to watch matches with his fellow fans. “Come to Misconduct Tavern at 15th and Locust any game time – we’ll be there, screaming.”