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Why Cecilee Ruesch Continues to Inspire Me

March 1, 2012
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The Impetus Behind the Healthcare Informatics/AMDIS IT Innovation Advocate Award


Last May in San Francisco, I was privileged to be able, in concert with Howard Landa, M.D., representing AMDIS (the Association of Medical Directors of Information Systems), to co-present to Cecilee Ruesch, R.N., a statuette and certificate honor Ruesch and her team at Providence Alaska Medical Center (in Anchorage, Alaska) for their groundbreaking electronic ICU (eICU) innovation.

Ruesch and her colleagues were the first-place team in the Healthcare Informatics/AMDIS IT Innovation Advocate Award, co-sponsored by our two organizations, and meant to honor and recognize teams of clinical informaticists and their clinician and administrative colleagues in patient care organizations nationwide, teams whose members have dedicated themselves to improving patient care safety and quality and operations in their organizations.

In the case of the Providence Alaska Medical Center eICU team, hwat happened was that Ruesch and her colleagues pursued a rarely attempted strategy: supporting their hospital’s ICUs with nurse-staffed remote monitoring via their new electronic ICU capability (from the Baltimore-based Philips Visicu). The program, which launched in January 2009, quickly documented excellent results, including a 15-percent decrease in average length of stay, a 14-percent decrease in mortality, an 8-percent increase in compliance with the ventilator bundle standard of care provision; and a 100-percent improvement in documentation compliance.

It’s results like these that all the pioneering informaticist teams in hospitals and other patient care organizations have been working hard to achieve, and which should be broadly recognized and honored, and communicated across the healthcare system, so that others can learn from such innovations and build their own.

That’s why I’m so excited to let all of our readers know about the second annual IT Innovation Advocate Award, for which we invite readers to send us nominations.  As last year, anyone in a relevant professional position in a provider organization (hospital, medical group, or health system) can nominate any team from any provider organization (including from their own organization). The top three teams will receive coverage in Healthcare Informatics, and the team lead of the first-place team will be flown to Orlando for the awards presentation. (Please be aware that individuals employed by vendor companies and consulting firms cannot nominate.)

I very much look forward to co-presenting this award with Bill Bria, M.D., the president of AMDIS, in May at the Healthcare Informatics Executive Summit.

It is one my great privileges to be in a position in which I can be a part of bringing forward stories of excellent innovations in healthcare. And this May, as last May, will provide me and the entire HCI editorial team with another opportunity to recognize achievement and honor more wonderful teams in healthcare and healthcare IT.