Mark Hagland discusses Healthcare Informatics Innovator Awards Program and winners

By Brad Dodge on March 17th, 2011

I spoke with Mark Hagland, Editor in Chief at Healthcare Informatics, at the awards ceremony for the Healthcare Informatics Innovator Awards Program held during HIMSS11 at the Loews Portofino Hotel and asked a little bit more about the program.Dodge: Can you give our readers a quick history and overview of the Healthcare Informatics Innovator awards program?Hagland: The Healthcare Informatics  Innovator Awards program has evolved considerably over the years. For a number of years, the program was focused on identifying one individual--a CIO or other health care IT leader--who had distinguished her/himself as an exceptional leader in health care IT. Beginning three years ago, the program shifted forward to honor three teams of leaders from different organizations, with winning teams being judged as having created IT-facilitated and -leveraged innovations that have improved care quality or patient safety, enabled clinician workflow, or facilitated financial or operational improvements. And, this year for the first time, the program was opened to non-hospital organizations; and indeed, the top three Innovator teams honored at Healthcare Informatics' Innovator Awards reception in Orlando in February represented a hospital, a medical group, and a health information exchange, respectively.

The goal of the editors at Healthcare Informatics in sponsoring the Innovator Awards program is to recognize and honor innovation in health care that is IT-facilitated; the innovation involved can be clinically or non-clinically focused, but in either case, we want to shine a light on the innovation itself, and on those who have shown the leadership needed to use IT to facilitate that innovation.Dodge: How did your judges select the winners this year, and what were the overwhelming programs that gave these winners the edge?Hagland: In the cases of all three winning organizations this year, there were elements of individual personal leadership shown, as well as a visionary quality about their initiatives. CIO/CMIO George Reynolds, M.D., helped infuse the entire Children's Hospital & Medical Center (Omaha) organization with a passion for using dashboards to analyze and improve performance--both clinical and non-clinical--enterprise-wide. At Southeast Texas Medical Associates, CEO Larry Holly, M.D., used a combination of dashboards and other IT tools to help his fellow physicians evaluate their management of the care of their patients, particularly those with chronic illnesses. and Devore Culver, executive director of HealthInfoNet, helped lead his fellow Maine health care IT leaders in creating a truly robust statewide health information exchange. In all three cases, the leaders of the teams honored had a vision of something greater than what had existed before, and moved forward with their vision, convincing colleagues to join them to build something new. Those were the elements that stood out for us at Healthcare Informatics.Dodge: What should the vendors do to watch for potential award winners for 2012?Hagland: Vendors can help us by reading the Innovator Awards cover story packages from the past three years in Healthcare Informatics (February 2011, March 2010, and April 2009), and then reach out to CIOs, CMIOs and other health care IT leaders at customer organizations that are doing really exceptional things and showing themselves to be particularly innovative. Vendors can't submit to the program, but they can certainly work to identify outstanding customer organizations and encourage them to submit to next year's program.