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Vimla L Patel

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Nationality  Canadian
Notable students  Marco Ramoni
Role  Psychologist
Name  Vimla Patel

Vimla L. Patel httpswwwdbmicolumbiaeduwpcontentuploads2

Institutions  McGill University Columbia University UT Houston ASU New York Academy of Medicine
Alma mater  University of Otago McGill University
Doctoral students  Andre Kushniruk David R Kaufman Trevor Cohen Jan Horsky
Known for  Cognitive science methods applied to understanding physician’s reasoning International Health Decision making and Medical errors Human factors and health information technology
Education  University of Otago, McGill University
Fields  Health informatics, Cognitive psychology

Other notable students  Marco Ramoni

Interview with vimla l patel phd dsc frsc facmi

Vimla Lodhia Patel, is a Fijian-born Canadian cognitive psychologist and biomedical informaticist.


In the past decade, Dr. Patel has worked in the area of biomedical informatics, in particular studying the mediating roles of technology on performance. Her work includes studies of medical errors and error reduction in emergency care and other critical medical environments, (including telephone triage). Her past work in health cognition includes studies of risk-taking behavior and sexual decision making as it pertains to HIV in youth and adolescents. Her current work focuses mostly on identifying underlying cognition in medical error and learning.

Biography and career

Dr. Patel was born in Fiji and obtained a degree in biochemistry and microbiology from University of Otago in New Zealand, and MA and PhD in Educational Psychology (Medical Cognition,1980,1981) from McGill University in Montreal, where she also served as professor of Medicine and Psychology and director of the Centre for Medical Education. She was a founding member of HEALnet (Health Evidence Application and Linkage Network), which made seminal contributions furthering informatics research and application in Canada. She was also a member of the InterMed Collaboratory, which developed guidelines for medical decision support, and has done extensive work in India, Africa, and Colombia in cross-cultural cognition research.

In 2000 she became director of the Laboratory of Cognition and Decision Making in the department of Biomedical Informatics at Columbia University, where she was also faculty in the department of Psychiatry and Teacher's College. From 2007-09, she served as interim chair and vice chair of Department of BMI at Arizona State University. Dr. Patel was a Professor of Biomedical Informatics and Co-Director of the Center for Cognitive Informatics and Decision Making at the University of Texas at Houston from 2009-11.As of November 2011, Dr.Patel joined the New York Academy of Medicine as a Senior Research Scientist and is the head of the Center for Cognitive Studies in Medicine and Public Health and is an adjunct professor of Biomedical informatics at Columbia University in NY.


In 1978 Elstein, Shulman and Sprafka applied cognitive science methods to investigate physicians’ clinical competence, developing a model of hypothetico-deductive reasoning which proposed that physicians reason by generating and testing a set of hypotheses to explain clinical data. This is an example of backward (hypothesis-to-data) reasoning. In 1986, Patel and Groen demonstrated that experts who accurately diagnosed complex clinical problems used forward reasoning (data to hypothesis), in contrast to novice subjects who used backward reasoning and misdiagnosed or partially diagnosed the same problems.

Patel also applied text comprehension methods to understanding the use of clinical practice guidelines with the goal of increasing adoption of best practices. Patel and colleagues have recently argued for new paradigm for error studies, where instead of zero error tolerance, detection and correction of potential error is viewed as an integral part of cognitive work in a complex workplace.

She is the author of more than 300 publications in cognitive psychology, biomedical informatics, medical education and related fields.


  • Member, Committee on Patient Safety and Health Information Technology, Institute of Medicine (IOM). 2010-2011.
  • Science and Technology Research Award (STAR) with Edward Shortliffe, UTH System, Houston,Texas. 2009
  • Vice Chair, AMIA Program Committee. 2009
  • Service Faculty of the Year Award, School of Computing and Informatics, Arizona State University. 2008
  • Member, Clinical Research Review Committee, The National Center for Research Resources (NCRR). 2007-2009
  • Selected for Marquis Who’s Who in the World. 2007
  • Member, Committee on Opportunities in Basic Research in the Behavioral and the Social Sciences for the Military, National Research Council, U.S.A. 2006
  • Elected Fellow, New York Academy of Medicine. 2004
  • Vice President (Member Service), International Medical Informatics Association Governing Board. 2003-2006
  • Outstanding Manuscript Award in Educational Methodology, Journal of Dental Education. 2002
  • Member, Bio-engineering Training and Education Program, National Science Foundation, USA. 1999-2007
  • Chair, Editorial Committee, Medinfo2001, International Medical Informatics Association, London, UK. 1999
  • D.Sc. (honorary), University of Victoria, BC, Canada. 1998
  • Member, Roundtable on Work, Learning and Assessment, National Research Council, U.S.A. 1997
  • Elected Member, Board of Governors, Cognitive Science Society. 1997
  • Elected Fellow, American College of Medical Informatics. 1996
  • Fellow, The Royal Society of Canada (elected by the Academy of Humanities and Social Sciences). 1996
  • Elected “Woman of Science” for the year (Sweden). 1994
  • Publications

  • Journal Articles
  • Book Chapters
  • Medline Publications
  • Google Scholar Citations
  • References

    Vimla L. Patel Wikipedia