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The Healthcare Informatics/AMDIS IT Innovation Advocate Award: First-Place Recipient: Neal Patel, M.D.

May 20, 2013
by Mark Hagland
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At Vanderbilt University Medical Center, CMIO Neal Patel , M.D. been a driving force in clinical transformation work, leading multiple initiatives to leverage IT to improve the care management of inpatients

On Friday, May 17, at the Healthcare Informatics Executive Summit, being held at the Sir Francis Drake Hotel in San Francisco, Mark Hagland, Editor-in-Chief of HCI, and Howard Landa, M.D., CMIO of Alameda County Medical Center in Oakland, Calif., and a member of the board of the Association of Medical Directors of Information Systems (AMDIS), co-presented the 2013 Healthcare Informatics/AMDIS IT Innovation Advocate Award, to recognize healthcare IT leaders who have helped moved the healthcare industry forward through their innovations.

HCI’s Hagland also announced that the name of the award will be modified going forward, in order to honor James. E. Levin, M.D., Ph.D., the CMIO of Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, who died unexpectedly in February of this year, and who was a nationally recognized leader in clinical informatics. Henceforth, the award will be known as the James E. Levin Memorial IT Innovation Award, to honor Dr. Levin.

The three recipients of the award are Neal Patel, M.D., CMIO of Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville (first place); John Mattison, M.D., assistant medical director and CMIO of Kaiser Permanente-Southern California, Pasadena (second place); and Michael Zaroukian, M.D., Ph.D., vice president and CMIO, Sparrow Health, Lansing, Mich. (third place). As the news article announcing the awards on May 16, noted, each of these CMIOs has shown exceptional leadership in their work with colleagues in their organizations, and beyond.

Vanderbilt’s Patel  has been in clinical practice as a pediatric critical care physician since 1997, and has been involved in clinical informatics in some way for years before that. Five years ago, Patel became CMIO at the 1,000-bed Vanderbilt University Medical Center, where he works with other medical and clinical informatics as part of a larger IT team of over 400 IT professionals. Vanderbilt has been live with computerized physician order entry (CPOE) since the mid-1990s; clinicians there use a self-developed system that was later commercialized by the Alpharetta, Ga.-based McKesson Corporation as McKesson Horizon Order Entry.

At Vanderbilt, Patel has been a driving force in clinical transformation work.  Among his achievements there to date has been the creation of what he and his colleagues call the “team summary” concept, which is working no turn simple standardized templates into advanced documentation tools that incorporate data analysis modules and modular capture of clinical content, allowing physicians to document more efficiently, and to share patient record information more efficiently with each other, through an aggregate-view solution. He has also helped lead his colleagues in an initiative around what they are calling “integrated presence”—a real-time patient risk monitoring solution that allows clinicians to quickly assess the clinical situation of any patient. That solution is currently being piloted in the burn unit at the hospital, and is expected to be expanded onto other units during the current calendar year.

In April, all three recipients spoke with HCI’s Hagland regarding their accomplishments and their perspectives on healthcare IT innovation. The interviews with Drs. Mattison and Zaroukian will appear in this space in the coming weeks. Below are excerpts from Hagland’s interview with Dr. Patel.

What areas are you responsible for as CMIO at Vanderbilt?

I have the hospital side under my portfolio; but we also have Jack Stormer, M.D., and Jim Jirjis, M.D., on the outpatient side.

Neal Patel, M.D.

Can you share with us about a couple of recent things you’ve been involved with?

Well, several things. Number one, as an institution, we’ve been focused on visualizing our clinical data in an aggregate view. One of the big complaints about computerized systems is that they lose the patient story. And one of the things I’ve helped to lead is that we’ve created a kind of virtual cloud or cache that decouples portions of the patient’s story from individual documents, in order to make them living and dynamic, so that data and information can be visualized by the team and handled. It’s a modular documentation process, whereby certain aspects of the module can be operated bi-directionally, so you don’t copy and paste the whole document. That has allowed us to make sure that a patient’s treatment  can be updated as the patient condition changes, rather than at each note-writing event, which tends to focus on a daily or billing cycle. We’ve had a good success in streamlining documentation, but also in promoting the relevance of the documentation.

So this module is carrying the capsule of the patient?

Exactly. And the capsule can be updated independently of the rest of the documentation.

So this is like a little space ship that comes out of the big space ship, with its own agency?