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Building Clinical Informaticist Teams

March 23, 2011
by Mark Hagland
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UPMC'S G. Daniel Martich, M.D., Shares His Views on Building Clinician Informaticist Teams
G. Daniel Martich, M.D.
G. Daniel Martich, M.D.

G Daniel Martich, M.D., is chief medical information officer and vice president, physician services, at the 20-hospital University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) health system. His key focus has been on deploying clinical information technology across one of the nation's largest integrated delivery networks. He spoke recently with HCI Editor-in-Chief Mark Hagland regarding the evolution of the concept of the clinician informaticist and of clinical informaticist teams. Below are excerpts from that interview.

Healthcare Informatics: How many clinician informaticists are there altogether at UPMC?

G. Daniel Martich, M.D.: There are at least 50, including 40 people who are designated as clinical informatics leads in each hospital-a nurse and a physician lead in each of our 20 hospitals. And there's a group of at least 10 ambulatory people also, and they're working on things like preparing physician offices on meaningful use and such.

HCI: How many would you say are on your team specifically?

Martich: The physician informaticists on the hospital side and the ambulatory folks report to me, so that's about 40. And all the nurse informaticists report to Mary Ann McConnell, R.N., who is essentially a CNIO, and she reports to the CNO.

HCI: Do the reporting relationships matter that much in terms of the success of a clinical informaticist team in an organization?

Martich: Earlier, I might have said that reporting relationships didn't matter; but now I report to Dan Drawbaugh, the CIO of the health system; previously, I had reported to the head of the physician division, who also happened to be the CMO.

Dr. Martich will headline a panel on leading clinical informatics teams during the HCI Executive Summit, to be held May 11-13 in San Francisco. For more information go to

HCI: Why was the change made?

Martich: From a high level, the thought on the part of the CEO of the organization was that we could probably coordinate things better, as our team got bigger and bigger. So there was some of that, that we were a large corporation that should be acting like a multitude of smaller organizations. The other aspect of this is that we have always been trying to be cutting-edge in terms of patient safety and in terms of healthcare IT. And we do have this technology center, created as an arm outside the traditional tracks. And in order to leverage all these things, what we do need to also be more tightly intertwined with this technology development center, which is working on such areas as clinician mobility.

HCI: Has your work changed at all?

Martich: Not really. The work remains the work, and everyone's still focused on delivery. And I do think there's more coordination.

HCI: Certainly, you still speak to the CMO, obviously?

Martich: Absolutely. He's one floor away from me, and we talk all the time.

HCI: Industry-wide, we're still working out a standard job description of what CMIOs and clinical informaticists do, aren't we?