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MS-HI Student Ava Anderson’s Findings on Intimate Partner Violence and Telehealth

Ava Anderson is no stranger to technology, having a bachelor’s degree in mechatronics engineering, which combines mechanical, computer and electrical systems. To learn how to integrate that knowledge into the health field, she’s pursuing a Master of Science in Health Informatics (MS-HI) degree at Logan University.

As far as her professional career following graduation in April 2022, she is keeping her options open but knows she wants to work in data analytics. Her recent capstone project, for example, focused on analyzing telehealth data as it relates to intimate partner violence (IPV).

While IPV has always been an issue, telehealth is newer and has rapidly grown in popularity, especially since the pandemic.

Ava was tasked with finding an issue within health informatics and proposing a solution, citing research that supports that it is currently an unsolved and existing issue. She chose intimate partner violence because she felt it was widespread in the community yet seems to fly under the radar. She then began conducting the research, and her classmates and professor peer reviewed the work along the way. She noticed that while there were some findings, there isn’t much research out there regarding this topic. There was information published about screening for IPV in person, but very little to none in telehealth.

She found that many health care providers are not well trained to screen for IPV in person, let alone through telehealth. While she notes that it is not their fault that they lack the training, she believes it should be required.

“There should be a continuing education credit,” Ava said. “I am kind of surprised how little training health care professionals have in intimate partner violence.”

A big issue she noted is that even if a provider and a victim are on a Zoom call, you can’t see everything that’s truly going on, and the provider could be oblivious to others in the room who are not in plain sight.

Ava’s main takeaway from her research was that as a society we are underprepared and were not ready for how quickly telehealth grew in popularity. A possible solution, she said, is a system that Vanderbilt University Medical Center uses, which is pre-appointment paperwork in an electronic health record (EHR) system. The paperwork has general COVID-19 questions and also asks if the patient is safe at home. This gives IPV victims an opportunity to come forward before the actual appointment.

Another example she believes would be beneficial in this setting is a method that Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center uses for pregnant women. Patients are given QR codes where they input their last name and birthdate as a way to alert nurses that they are in danger at home.

“I think it would be interesting to perform research to see how effective this system would be and target specific groups,” Ava said. “It’s more of a telehealth discussion. Different groups have different statistics, so being able to target those groups and give them access to telehealth – and also give trained care – would be a great help to the different people IPV affects.”