Premila Peters: Helping speed the way to diagnosis

September 19, 2019 – South Burlington, VT
Article from Shelburne News by Phyl Newbeck

Three years ago, Shelburne’s Premila Peters became president of Data Innovations, a global company based in Burlington. The business automates the workflow in medical laboratories, mostly in hospitals, speeding up the process and cutting down the risk of human error. Their software is used in over 85 countries and more than 6,000 laboratories including all the Veterans Administration (VA) hospitals in the US.

Peters has worked in the health care field since receiving her Master’s in business administration from UVM. In 1994, she joined KPMG where she worked with Medical Center Hospital of Vermont when it was merging with Fanny Allen and University Health Center.

“I’ve always liked the health care field,” she said. “It’s mission driven.”

Peters subsequently worked for GE Health Care before joining Data Innovations. Software created by the company reads the barcode on laboratory samples and then sends those samples to the appropriate measuring device and tabulates the results. This allows medical personnel to determine the next step for the patient, automating a process which used to be done manually.

Founded in 1989 by Dave Potter and Greg Vail, Data Innovations has 180 employees with additional offices in Brussels, Sao Paulo, and Hong Kong, but Peters wants to make sure they stay grounded locally. The 60-person Burlington office shuts down for half a day so employees can go to Camp Ta-Kum-Ta to help get the facilities ready for campers. The company also does fundraising for breast cancer research and has been taking part in the annual Vermont Tech Jams. In 2018, Peters began serving on the board of the Vermont Business Roundtable.

“This is a real opportunity for our company to become better known in the community,” she said. Data Innovations has some employees who have been with the firm for over two decades but Peters said they are always looking to recruit new workers, particularly software engineers.

For the last five years, the 48-year-old Peters has mentored a girl through the King Street Center, after having started her affiliation with the non-profit by reading to children during their summer program. She was recently asked to join the King Street board and although she was hesitant because she wanted to do more hands-on work, she believes she can balance both.

Having lived in both China and India, Peters was also asked to become a member of the Vermont Global Exchange. Members of the exchange meet twice a year to discuss the challenges of working in other countries. Perhaps it is the global nature of her job that makes the 20-year resident of Shelburne so fond of her local community.

“I feel like if I turn left, I’m in the country and if I turn right, I’m in town,” she said. “You can get everything within 10 minutes.”

Peters continues to find her job rewarding.

“When we are in the pink of our lives, emotionally and physically strong, we tend to get amazing service,” she said. “My goal is that when we are in the worst of times and are emotionally and physically weak, we should also get the best service.”

The first Data Innovations customer Peters ever visited was the VA Center in Tuscaloosa, Ala., where she saw a waiting room full of former service members.

“Our software can help those vets who served our country,” she said. “It can either get them back to their living rooms faster or it can help them get treatment faster. That really moved me.”

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