Faces of UMSI: Caitlin Kelley

MSI graduate Caitlin Kelley enjoys teaching, but her passion is sharing health care information. “Most of what I’ve done is connecting researchers and clinicians with the health information they need to improve care or collaborate on research,” Caitlin said. “I fell in love with connecting people with health information.”

As an Information Services Assistant at U-M’s Taubman Health Sciences Library, Caitlin completed many projects, including studying research publication outcomes. “I wanted to see what the research impact was from these people,” she said. She looked at research cited in laws, regulations and policy; private insurance healthcare decisions; the political impact of testimony in front of Congress; and research citations in Medicaid/Medicare-covered decisions. Caitlin also worked with a team of librarians to develop an online video course for librarians to improve their work.

During an Alternative Spring Break (ASB) at the National Library of Medicine (NLM) on the campus of the National Institute of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, she created an automated mechanism to track the outcomes of NLM-funded grants. “It’s federal money from taxpayers,” Caitlin said. “They need to be accountable for that money.” Bibliometrics is a self-sustaining program which automatically follows how grant monies are used by notifying the NLM of new publications produced from those grants.

A recent project involved designing a self-monitoring digital tool for people with chronic back pain. “Chronic back pain is very prevalent in America and people spend a lot of money trying to feel better. It’s an awful cycle,” Caitlin said, adding people move less because of the pain, their muscles weaken and many become depressed. “I want to help people stop that cycle.” Caitlin helped prototype an app called BackTrack, which encourages back pain suffers to exercise more despite the initial increase in pain. BackTrack allows users to keep a record of their exercise time while connecting them with other back pain suffers who exercise. “It shows them the trend - the pain will worsen at first, but your pain will get better,” she said. “We looked at our app as a layer on top of Fitbit that met more of the needs of somebody with chronic back pain.”

Caitlin, who graduated in May with an MSI and a graduate certificate in health informatics, has a BA in English Literature from California Polytechnic University. She is currently working as a program specialist for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in Ann Arbor. As an embedded research informationist, she provides the information perspective to research involving the application of technologies to health services research.  She ultimately hopes to work as a health sciences librarian. “I want to work directly for a health organization helping them with their information projects,” Caitlin said. “I have very strong technology and information skills so I anticipate that will be a very large part of my career in the beginning.”