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Spotlight: Tabitha Peterson, operations manager

As we advance Sharecare’s mission to help people manage their personal health and well-being by connecting all the moving parts of their healthcare experience, our medical records line of business is vital as health records serve as a roadmap for everyone involved in managing care and treatment. Enabling providers, health clinics, hospitals, health systems, and other industry stakeholders to smoothly guide their patients across their well-being journeys, we empower individuals to access their personal health information so they can make better informed decisions, collaborate with their care teams, and advocate for themselves.

For our May employee spotlight, we introduce Tabitha Peterson, a medical records operations manager in the central region, who oversees Sharecare’s work with two major hospitals, and a few smaller hospitals and clinics in Minnesota. Recently, a family reached out to Sharecare leaders to express their thanks for how their daughter’s medical records retrieval was handled, thanks to Tabitha’s impactful service in her work with Hennepin Healthcare.  Each time they thanked Tabitha for going above and beyond what was expected of her role, she humbly responded, “I’m just doing my job.”

Finding a fulfilling career and passion for working with medical records for nearly two decades, Tabitha celebrates her 7th anniversary at Sharecare in the first week of June. During her interview for this article, Tabitha shared her hope not only to leave a meaningful impact on the individuals she serves daily, but also to help shape a more inclusive, safer world for her LGBTQ+ children.

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Tell us about your role, Tabitha.

I’m an operations manager in the central region and I oversee two major hospitals and a couple of smaller hospitals and clinics in the state of Minnesota. I work to help find and deliver medical records, both physically and digitally to those who require them. Sharecare gets medical records requests from attorneys, government agencies, patients, insurance companies, and more, and it’s my team’s responsibility to review these requests for release of information to ensure they’re valid, meet all state and federal statutes, and provide the necessary information before we deliver any records.

My clients are all in Minnesota, and my team members span multiple states, with the most in New York, South Dakota, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota primarily.

What’s the most rewarding part about your job?

When people think of healthcare, obviously the doctors and nurses stand out for doing amazing work. Patients don’t often think of those who manage medical records. Yet, in certain cases, you can make a difference in somebody’s life, and that’s just amazing. Medical records help individuals understand their care and also what is being said about them.

If they know how they’re being treated, they can make informed decisions, review the recommendations of a provider, and weigh their options. They’re also able to take their information to another healthcare facility or find other providers who may be better suited to treat them. They can even review their records and apply for benefits to help themselves and their families – so many things. By giving people access to their medical records, they’re better able to advocate for themselves and navigate their health.

Do you have a favorite project you’ve worked on?

I’ve worked with a few facilities to help improve the operations of their electronic medical records systems to optimize the release of information. Facilities don’t always invite vendors to help make permanent changes to their proprietary systems, so I feel fortunate that I’ve been included a couple of times to help weigh in. To me, it’s been exciting and rewarding to help imagine how to improve the experience for their patients, how to improve the process for my team, as well as the facilities we work with. It might not be fun work for a lot of people, but I’m also somebody who finds spreadsheets to be fun.

What’s the biggest challenge working in medical records?

One of the biggest challenges is navigating the ever-changing legal practices and security guidelines, especially as we’re called upon to make medical records more accessible. Obviously, we want to make sure that patients have access to their medical records. They are theirs to view and to do with what they choose. However, at the same time, we’re stringently focused on protecting their privacy, which can be a challenge. Ultimately, we stand for patient privacy and security, so finding a way to make their record access convenient and streamlined, while protecting their information privacy, can be tricky.

What’s a cause that’s important to you?

My children are part of the LGBTQ+ community. I have nonbinary, trans, queer children. I’m very passionate about the LGBTQ+ cause, as well as other social justice movements, including women’s and human rights. As a mother, I am here to make a better world for my kids. It’s important that I am here to support my children, and I would say that my family is my passion project. My family is made up of two human children, three cat children, and my husband (which Tabitha laughingly says are prioritized in that order).

What’s the toughest challenge you’ve faced?

The toughest challenge was frankly, 2020. In addition to the challenges brought on by COVID-19, I work in downtown Minneapolis, where George Floyd was killed. I witnessed up close how both our national and local communities were shocked and impacted by this event. Never in my life did I think I would go into work and see military personnel walking through the halls of the hospital with automatic rifles. Amidst everything, I saw how important our work was; people’s need for healthcare did not stop amidst a historic year for our country. At the time, it was also humbling to reflect on the privileges I have as a white-passing Hispanic woman, realizing there are things I had to learn and change.

How do you enjoy spending time with your family?

Despite their best efforts to sit alone in their rooms and listen to music, I like to get my kids outside to hike, go kayaking, and sometimes just a drive. For what we call an “ice cream run,” we’ll get in the car, turn up the music, scream and sing along as we drive together to get ice cream. We have an eclectic taste in music; my kids recently introduced me to reggae rock, and J-pop and K-pop are big in our house, as well as a mix of artists ranging from Taylor Swift to Bob Dylan.

What’s the theme song to your life?

“Forever Young” by Bob Dylan, I just love the advice he sings and speaks to. His wishing and hope in the lyrics – that’s what I want for my kids. It’s also that I hope that I am living my life to show them that this is what I want for them.