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James E. Levin, M.D., Ph.D, CMIO at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, Dies at 55

February 11, 2013
by Mark Hagland
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Dr. Levin was a pioneer among CMIOs in leading EHR-leveraged clinical performance improvement, and was beloved by colleagues

James E. Levin, M.D., Ph.D.

James E. Levin, M.D., Ph.D., CMIO at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, died unexpectedly on Feb. 10 while traveling on business. Dr. Levin, 55, was a nationally recognized pioneer in medical informatics, and had helped guide his colleagues at Children’s of Pittsburgh, part of the vast 20-plus-hospital University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) health system, through industry-leading innovations in clinical innovation and electronic health record (EHR)-driven clinical performance improvement.

In 2010, Dr. Levin and his colleagues at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh were named the first-place winning team in the Healthcare Informatics Innovator Awards program, for the creation of a workflow-friendly ICU solution for immediate data availability for clinicians.

Dr. Levin, who preferred to be addressed as “Jim,” had served from 1994 to 2006 as medical director of informatics at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota in Minneapolis/St. Paul, when in October of 2006, he joined Children’s Hospital as CMIO. While at Children’s of Pittsburgh, he worked alongside then-CIO Jacqueline Dailey to completely the computerized physician order entry (CPOE) system at Children’s, and then led a team of clinical informaticists and clinician and quality leaders who leveraged the EHR/CPOE system to dramatically improve clinical performance in a number of areas, most notably around medication error reduction and elimination.

G. Daniel Martich, M.D., CMIO at UPMC, said of Dr. Levin, “Jim Levin was one of the pioneers of electronic health records, and brought his expertise to Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, and helped them become one of the most automated children's hospitals in America. He was such a gentle giant. I never saw Jim angry, even in tense situations. He always had a smile on his face, was always positive. He was someone everyone looked to. This is what is good about medical informatics--you have some who understands the medical side, the IT side, and the operations side; he was someone who brought it all together. He was a wonderful colleague,” Dr. Martich added. “And even though he was dedicated to Children's, we used him at UPMC for all manner of things, because we wanted his expertise for all sorts of things, particularly data governance, because he understood the informatics, the medicine and the workflow.”

And Christopher Longhurst, M.D., CMIO at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford University (Palo Alto, Calif.), said of Dr. Levin, “To say that Dr. Levin was a valued colleague in the CMIO community, scientific collaborator, and friend is an understatement. I most recently saw Jim at the AMIA [American Medical Informatics Association] meeting in November, where he was proudly watching his daughter Hannah present the results of work they had done together over the summer. The last email I received from him was last week, in which he was seeking mentorship on behalf of a student for her research project. The community is reeling today and I am deeply saddened by the loss of a humble role model and friend.”