A local physician turned photographer pulls back the virtual curtain to reveal his day job
Dr. Greg Hinson is a man of many passions. As a primary-care physician, he’s delivered approximately six hundred babies on Nantucket. On the Internet, he’s a social-media sensation and a locally famous photographer. As an activist, he once mounted a grassroots campaign to prevent a major corporation from taking up residence on Nantucket—and succeeded. He’s a birder, blogger, web designer, drone pilot, and father of four. He might just be one of the most well-known Nantucket residents around, and yet since resigning from his practice at the Nantucket Cottage Hospital two years ago, most people have absolutely no idea what Dr. Greg Hinson actually does with his time.
Mornings, Hinson can be found wedged in the corner of the Bean tapping away on his laptop, but he’s not just posting photos of the sunrise or spreading viral fodder for your Facebook feed. Hinson is uploading his years of experience as a primary-care physician to develop innovative medical technologies that could dramatically improve national health care.
Hinson works at eClinicalWorks creating software to help physicians better interact with their patients when they’re not sitting right in front of them in their offices. eClinicalWorks is a leader in electronic medical-records technology that serves over 85,000 independent physicians around the country, including Nantucket’s own Dr. Timothy Lepore. After leaving Nantucket Cottage Hospital, Hinson was recruited by this $270 million company to create better ways of engaging patients and to develop software that will improve doctors’ ability to provide care.
Hinson helped design a smart-phone app that allows patients to access their medical records on their phones. As the doctor-patient relationship grows more and more distanced, this technology doesn’t necessarily lessen the divide, but rather offers a safety net for patients to stay on top of their own health and well-being. For instance, if a patient is due for a colonoscopy or mammogram, there will soon be an automated messaging system that will provide alerts via phone or email.
What began as a consulting position has since morphed into a hands-on development process for Hinson. Using his skills in Photoshop, he designs the early mock-ups for the company’s smart-phone medical apps. His most recent project, which he fittingly describes as his “baby,” is an app designed for expecting mothers. With the touch of a button, mothers will be able to track their pregnancies on their smart phones. The app will tell them what to expect on any given day, what questions to ask at each of their check-ups. It even comes with a “Kick Counter.”
Beyond designing the concept and functionality of the baby app, Hinson is authoring the educational content for the entire program. So when a mother reaches a particular check-up, the app will give her
the same advice Hinson would give a mother on Nantucket. For all the cold impersonality of technology, Hinson is trying to impart the personal touch that came with being a primary-care physician in a small island community.
“Even though I definitely miss patient care, it’s at least offset by the notion that I am doing something that’s maybe larger by working with patients around the country, finding ways to make it easier for them to make appointments, helping them have better access to their medical records and the like,” Hinson says. “I miss the clinical part, but this is just clinical enough, and in some ways grander and more important. But it is my intention to return to practicing here, if not full-time, part-time. It’s just a matter of finding a way to do it.”
Transitioning from on-call doctor to at-home app developer has also allowed Hinson to pursue his pas- sion for photography more seriously. Rarely does a sunset, sunrise, or rainbow go by without getting caught behind Hinson’s lens. He routinely flies his camera high overhead with a kite or a helicopter drone to get a whole new perspective on the island. Thanks to his prolific shooting, people took notice of his striking images, and today his work pops up in magazines, advertisements, and, of course, on the Internet, where he has garnered thousands of followers. Online, many know Hinson for his Photoshop pranks that often go viral. When he posted a fake photo of Tom Brady and Gisele Bündchen walking down Main Street this April Fool’s Day, the Boston Herald picked up the story and ran it in the following day’s paper.
“What I love about being a photographer is it changes how you see things. So much of what counts as mundane here on Nantucket is absolutely gorgeous when you stop and look at it,” Hinson says. “The more you take pictures, the more apt you are to stop and look. And I think that level of perception helps with other parts of life as well. It makes me a better physician.” When Hinson will don his lab coat and stethoscope once again as a physician on Nantucket, only time will tell. Until then, however, Dr. Greg Hinson will continue to be just a click away.