Dr. Richard Epstein Receives the J.S. Gravenstein Award from the Society for Technology in Anesthesia
Richard H. Epstein, M.D., professor of clinical anesthesiology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, has won this year’s J.S. Gravenstein Award from the Society for Technology in Anesthesia (STA) for his lifetime achievement in anesthesia technology.
Since 2000, STA has awarded the J.S. Gravenstein Award to leaders in the field of anesthesiology who represent the values revered by the late J.S. “Nik” Gravenstein (1925-2009), a founding member and former president of the STA. This year’s award ceremony took place at the STA annual meeting in Las Vegas, with Dr. Epstein giving a presentation related to his contributions to the field.
“Being a recipient of this award is an honor that reflects my career working in health care technology,” Dr. Epstein said. “I can think of no better way to honor the memory of Dr. Gravenstein than through my contributions to the scientific study of patient safety.”
Merging computers and technology with health care has always been at the forefront for Dr. Epstein. Since childhood, he has had a keen interest in computers and computer programming that has continued throughout his career. Dr. Epstein’s medical career began with a focus on caring for critically ill pediatric patients, which later shifted to adults.
“My interest in computers has given me a set of skills that are pretty broad, but that few people have,” Dr. Epstein said. “This has resulted in my work focusing on real-time decision support and communications, optimizing perioperative care, and understanding factors related to surgical growth, diversity, and how health care is changing over time.”
In meriting the J.S. Gravenstein Award, Dr. Gravenstein has set himself apart by showing constant innovation in applying technology to health care. His presentation gave an overview of the key developments and highlights of his career.
At the start of his pediatric residency in 1979, Dr. Epstein wrote decision-support software to manage the resuscitation of infants with severe dehydration and electrolyte imbalances, and to analyze mixed acid-base disorders. As a resident in anesthesiology in the 1980s, he built an anesthesia record-keeping system, followed by fellowship projects involving the analysis of heart rate variability and development of an electronic health record. In the 1990s, Dr. Epstein was involved in various clinical trials and developed software for automated data collection and analysis of neuromuscular blockade.
During the new millennium, Dr. Epstein developed an electronic health record system for use in the preoperative testing clinic at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia; the system was in use from 2000 to 2017. He also implemented a commercial anesthesia information management system and provided multiple enhancements and extensions to that system. Dr. Epstein has been involved in multiple collaborative studies and nearly 250 publications in prestigious journals such as the Journal of Clinical Anesthesia, Anesthesia & Analgesia, and Anesthesiology.
At the Miller School, more than 40 years into his career, Dr. Epstein remains focused on various projects involving predictions related to the perioperative care of patients and involving the analysis of large health care datasets from the state of Florida to understand aspects of competition and surgical growth.
“Making influential contacts, establishing your value, having strong collaborations, and a desire for learning were all things I learned throughout my career that were critical to my success,” Dr. Epstein said. “In the end, I’m proud to be a computer scientist who practices anesthesia and uses technology to improve the delivery of health care.”