Dr. Barbara Hewitt
What is your role at CHP and how long have you worked here?
I am an Associate Professor and Clinical Coordinator for the Master's program in the Department of Health Information Management. I have worked at Texas State University for over 15 years.
I started back in the dark ages (1989) as a system analyst until 1999 when I took a lecture position in Health Information Management where I taught until 2003. I started my PhD in Information Technology in 2002. When I finished there were no openings at Texas State University (HIM or CIS) so I taught Computer Information Systems at Texas A&M University - San Antonio (tenured in 2014). I returned to TXST in 2015 restarting my tenure clock, which I received in 2021.
Could you tell us about you research interests and why you are passionate about them?
My research interests include both computer security especially of health information, health and wellness, and anything that my colleagues invite me to research. When I completed my undergraduate computer science degree, I was very passionate about programming in many of the older programming languages including Fortran, Basic, PL 1, and Pascal. Fast forward to my PhD where I was exposed to computer security and I became very passionate about security. I started exploring the behavior of individuals when accessing data including health records especially when they are using their personal devices.
What are some potential applications of your research, and what holds promise for patients?
Confidentiality of patient records and privacy of patient information is important to the health and well being of patients. Thus, identifying what makes individuals (both healthcare professionals and patients) secure the patient's health information is paramount to patient's sharing information with their providers.
My research will hopefully drive health organizations to think twice before letting employees use their own devices. What type of protection are on these devices? What other things are these employees doing on these devices? What if they download malware or ransomware when visiting untrusted websites or clicking on links in personal emails? The biggest issue is that it is hard to get healthcare professionals to respond to surveys.
Could you tell us about your recent grant applications and how they will advance your area of research?
I have submitted more grants than I care to admit. I received funding for an internal REP grant and I am a Co-PI on Larry Fulton's Data Science grant with the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. The paper from the REP grant was accepted for publication this year! I am currently working on the Data Science grant completing my module for the certification program. The majority of my other grant applications did not get funded. But even without funding, I still capitalized on several of those ideas. For example, while it was not research, we did implement the health informatics minor this past year. Keep being creative and keep applying for grants.
Could you describe your vision for the research work you are leading at CHP?
Right now, my focus is on examining mechanisms to secure electronic health records. This past March, I presented some of this work at HIMSS and several of the audience members were very excited about my findings. I want to continue my work in this area and possibly publish in some of the trade magazines to get more CIOs and CISOS talking about the results of the research.
What is the best part about being a scholar at the College of Health Professions at Texas State University?
The support you receive for your publications is great. While I have not received funding for all of the research I have completed from external grants, our department sometimes helps us with funds to collect data. Being creative in other ways also works. For example, I have contacted random organizations to request help with my research and have successfully received responses (phishing).
Do you have any advice for faculty considering research and grantsmanship at CHP?
If you are hesitating or having trouble with research and grant writing, you are surrounded by great scholars/grant writers. I suggest talking to your colleagues to see what they are doing and sharing your ideas. Dr. Arzu Ari and Rosaura are great at helping you locate others that have similar interests.
What is one thing not on your CV that you would like us to know?
Home designer/builder: My husband and I built several houses. While we contracted out most professions, we framed ourselves. While framing was my husband's professions, my skills were acquired on-the-job. We finished our fifth home while I was writing my dissertation.
What are your hobbies and interests (other than making CHP great)?
I founded a nonprofit in 2011 to support women in technology that is still supporting females interested in technology. I am still the chair of the group including running monthly meetings for women in technology, honoring female and gender neutral high school students who are doing inspiring things in computing, and hosting a summit for college and university students preparing them for their career.
I walk and hike including the mountains in Washington State and Northern New Mexico (where it is cooler than Texas). My longest walk was over 22 miles when I was in Berlin, Germany. On another occasion, I hiked up 5,230 feet by hiking Rattle Snake Mountain in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. I completed 3 half marathons with the last being in 2019. The hiking in the mountains prepares me well for running in low altitude areas.
Achieving excellence in the non-academic impact of our research is one of our fundamental objectives in the Office of Research at the College of Health Professions (CHP). Therefore, the selection criteria for scholar spotlight at CHP include grant activity and research impact listed below:
- Apply for external grants opportunities and receive funded grants.
- Participate in interdisciplinary research led by faculty from departments both in and outside CHP.
- Achieve integrity and independence to influence the world beyond academia, benefiting the health and wellbeing of people and society.
- Build mutually beneficial and enduring partnerships to achieve positive outcomes in health care.
- Produce meaningful discoveries such as a new device, technology, treatment, or initiative in health care.