Roberta Capp has a grand vision. She hopes to make health care easily accessible to those in dire need of it. As assistant professor of emergency medicine at the University of Colorado, Denver, Capp is well-placed to tackle the widely recognized hurdles to health care delivery in the United States. But it is perhaps her own life experiences that have emboldened Capp to take on the daunting task of improving health care.

She is the recipient of the 2016 Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Biomedical Science. The Vilcek Prizes for Creative Promise were established in 2009 as a complement to the Vilcek Prizes, to encourage and support young immigrants who have already demonstrated exceptional achievements, and who often face significant challenges early in their careers. As with the Vilcek Prizes, the Creative Promise Prizes are awarded annually in biomedical science and in a changing category of the arts, this year recognizing accomplishments in the field of theatre.

During this time, through analysis of local and national databases as well as community-based research, she found that most patients with poor access to primary care frequently rely on emergency departments for conditions that might have been better treated or even avoided with timely intervention by primary care physicians.  Capp developed a program to identify such patients and pair them with trained professionals (“navigators”) in their own communities.  Using patient navigation services led to reduced emergency department use and hospital admissions—tantamount to a potential economy of more than a million dollars in health care costs. To that end, she is working with Medicaid officials in Colorado to improve access to health care.

Thanks to the support of her longstanding mentor Richard Zane, chair of the emergency medicine department at the University of Colorado, Denver, Capp’s contributions to health care coordination earned her an assistant professorship in the medical school at Denver, where she returned in 2013 to her family’s delight. Over the coming years, Capp hopes to make health care patient-centered and to reduce its cost and improve its quality. “Someday, I would love to be the medical director for Medicaid nationwide and drive policy decisions with my research experience. The beautiful thing about this country is that if you are passionate and persistent, you can achieve your dreams,” she says.

We are throughly proud to highlight this FemInEM who is literally changing the world.

Information taken from: