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Regenstrief CEO Tierney to Lead University of Texas Population Health Efforts

August 24, 2015
by David Raths
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Tierney helped design, deploy and study one of the first CPOE systems in the U.S.
Regenstrief CEO William Tierney, M.D.

William Tierney, M.D., president and CEO of the Regenstrief Institute in Indiana and a leader in medical informatics and health services research, will become the inaugural Chair of Population Health for the Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin.

Tierney, who has been Regenstrief’s CEO since 2010, said the new Department of Population Health would partner with existing community and academic programs to create new strategies and programs to improve overall health and well being among the residents of Austin and Travis County.

Tierney worked at Regenstrief for more than three decades. Closely affiliated with Indiana University School of Medicine, the Regenstrief Institute is recognized for its role in improving quality of care, increasing efficiency of health care delivery, preventing medical errors and enhancing patient safety. 

Tierney’s research focuses on implementing electronic health record systems (EHRs) in hospital and outpatient venues in Indiana and in East Africa, according to his biography on the Regenstrief web site. His team of developers implemented sub-Saharan African’s first ambulatory EHR. With the engagement of EHR developers from the Regenstrief Institute, Partners in Health, and the Research Council of South Africa, this system has grown into OpenMRS which Tierney and his colleagues have implemented in more than 50 clinics and hospitals in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda and which, through the OpenMRS Consortium, has been employed in more than 40 countries. In the 1980s, Tierney helped design, deploy, and study one of the first computer-based provider order-entry systems in the U.S. in Wishard Health Services where it and other computer-based tools have enhanced the quality and efficiency of health care. 

The Dell Medical School said Tierney plans to assemble a team to work with a range of providers, community organizations and other partners to improve health through increasing access to primary care specialties, enhancing public health activities, improving health services, strengthening community-based participatory research, and developing a state-of-the-art health informatics infrastructure for Austin and Travis County. Although he already is working on his plan for population health in Austin, he will officially join the Dell Medical School team in January.

 “The people of Travis County have made a visionary investment in this medical school, and the Department of Population Health will provide dividends on that investment by creating innovative collaborative models to help people get and stay healthy,” Tierney said in a prepared statement.

Clay Johnston, M.D., the Dell Medical School’s inaugural dean, said Tierney and his team would help realize the medical school’s vision of a vital, inclusive health ecosystem, while also making Travis County a model for the nation in population health. He noted that the Dell Medical School is among few medical schools nationally to create a Department of Population Health and focus on using teams of health care professionals to improve health of large populations — a crucial goal in trying to design health systems that better serve society.

In addition to leading the Regenstrief Institute, Dr. Tierney is Associate Dean for Clinical Effectiveness Research at Indiana University School of Medicine, where he attended medical school and completed a residency in internal medicine. 

“Through Bill Tierney’s aspirations for better health, he has locally and globally advanced the field of healthcare informatics," said Thane Peterson, executive operating officer of the Regenstrief Institute, in a prepared statement. "Bill is an exceptional leader with an unwavering commitment to reducing disease and improving lives."
Tierney has been the principal investigator or co-principal investigator on grants and contracts totaling more than $32 million. He has authored or co-authored 290 articles in peer-reviewed medical journals and is the past editor of the Journal of General Internal Medicine and co-editor-in-chief of Medical Care. He is a fellow of the American College of Medical Informatics.