Urmimala Sakar, M.D., MPH (UCSF)


Urmimala Sarkar MD, MPH is Associate Professor of Medicine at UCSF in the Division of General Internal Medicine and a primary care physician at San Francisco General Hospital’s Richard H. Fine People’s Clinic. Dr. Sarkar’s research focuses on (1) patient safety in outpatient settings, including adverse drug events, missed and delayed diagnosis, and failures of treatment monitoring, (2) health information technology and social media to improve the safety and quality of outpatient care, and (3) implementation of evidence-based innovations in real-world, safety-net care settings.



Dr. Sarkar is committed to enhancing health information technology approaches to improve primary care and ameliorate disparities in vulnerable populations, through the health-literacy-sensitive, patient-centered approaches such as co-development and usability testing, in partnership with technology development experts. Her current work applies design thinking and interdisciplinary, iterative approaches to characterize and address safety gaps in outpatient settings.

She has conducted studies which explore the impact of health communication (health literacy, English proficiency) and health information technology on patient safety. Her prior studies on internet-based patient portals demonstrate digital disparities by race/ethnicity and health literacy. Her social media studies use mixed-methods approaches to understand patient perspectives about physician quality and about cancer screening behaviors. Her ongoing work employs varied health information technologies to detect and ameliorate adverse events among outpatient chronic disease populations. She is currently funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), the National Cancer Institute, the Blue Shield of California Foundation, and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, among others.

My program of research is focused on understanding the factors that contribute to inequities in women’s reproductive health and justice. The goals of my research are three fold: 1) to improve patient outcomes, 2) to improve access to care, and 3) to improve patients’ experiences of their care. Reproductive Justice (RJ) is an intersectional framework that posits individuals have a right to abortion, a right to parent, a right to parent the children they have, and a right to disassociate sex from reproduction (Ross & Sollinger, 2017). This framework is the roadmap that guides all of my research, which can be categorized into four content areas area, namely, interrogating the context and content of care, evaluating providers of care, determining baselines of quality care, and generating evidence to inform policies that impact care.



  • Sarkar U, Karter AJ, Liu JY, Adler NE, Nguyen R, Lopez A, Schillinger D. Social disparities in internet patient portal use in diabetes: evidence that the digital divide extends beyond access. Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association : JAMIA. 2011;18(3):318-21. Epub 2011/01/26. doi: 10.1136/jamia.2010.006015. PubMed PMID: 21262921; PMCID: Pmc3078675.
  • Detz A, Lopez A, Sarkar U. Long-term doctor-patient relationships: patient perspective from online reviews. Journal of medical Internet research. 2013;15(7):e131. Epub 2013/07/04. doi: 10.2196/jmir.2552. PubMed PMID: 23819959; PMCID: PMC3713916.
  • Lyles CR, Sarkar U. Additional considerations for ‘Harnessing the cloud of patient experience’. BMJ quality & safety. 2013;22(8):698. Epub 2013/03/12. doi: 10.1136/bmjqs-2013-001893. PubMed PMID: 23476069.
  • Wallace BC, Paul MJ, Sarkar U, Trikalinos TA, Dredze M. A large-scale quantitative analysis of latent factors and sentiment in online doctor reviews. Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association : JAMIA. 2014;21(6):1098-103. Epub 2014/06/12. doi: 10.1136/amiajnl-2014-002711. PubMed PMID: 24918109; PMCID: Pmc4215053.
  • Chan B, Lopez A, Sarkar U. The Canary in the Coal Mine Tweets: Social Media Reveals Public Perceptions of Non-Medical Use of Opioids. PLoS One. 2015; 10(8):e0135072. PMID: 26252774; PMCID: PMC4529203.
  • Lyles CR, Lopez A, Pasick R, Sarkar U. “5 mins of uncomfyness is better than dealing with cancer 4 a lifetime”: an exploratory qualitative analysis of cervical and breast cancer screening dialogue on Twitter. J Cancer Educ. 2013 Mar;28(1):127-33. PMID: 23132231.
  • Lyles CR, Godbehere A, Le G, El Ghaoui L, Sarkar U. Applying Sparse Machine Learning Methods to Twitter: Analysis of the 2012 Change in Pap Smear Guidelines. A Sequential Mixed-Methods Study. JMIR Public Health Surveill. 2016; 2(1):e21. PMID: 27288093.
  • Cherian R, Westbrook M, Ramo D, Sarkar U. “Drowning in #codeine”: Representations of codeine misuse on Instagram. Journal of Medical Internet Research. Under Revision.