Patel to take over health IT helm at Vanderbilt

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Neal Patel, MD, Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s chief health information officer, will replace Kevin Johnson, MD, senior vice president of health information technology, on January 1.

The Nashville, Tenn.-based healthcare organization announced on Tuesday that Patel will succeed Johnson in the role of VUMC’s HealthIT leader, while Johnson will continue to serve as chair of the Department of Biomedical Informatics.

“As the new leader of HealthIT, Patel will be responsible for the team serving the medical center’s information system users, while supporting ongoing advancements to drive continued improvement in clinical safety, quality and cost,” according to VUMC.

Johnson and Patel served as co-leads overseeing last year’s go-live launch of a new eStar platform, comprising 25 different Epic modules, designed to support an integrated clinical, administrative and billing infrastructure. VUMC’s post-implementation efforts were also led by Johnson and Patel to optimize eStar.

“The size and scale of eStar’s implementation represent the most significant organizational change in the medical center’s history. Kevin successfully led this effort with a clear vision from the outset,” says Jeff Balser, MD, VUMC president and CEO, and dean of the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. “Dr. Patel’s many contributions as a clinical IT innovator, along with his thorough understanding of our organizational needs, make him an ideal successor for this role.”

VUMC’s eStar project, called EpicLeap, was the culmination of a two-year implementation effort and represented a dramatic departure for the organization, which has internally-developed much of its health IT over the past 25 years—including the StarPanel electronic health record.

Also See: Vanderbilt execs say system is ready for transition to Epic platform

“With Dr. Patel succeeding Dr. Johnson in this role, there is an assurance of continuity as we move forward,” says John Manning Jr., chief operating officer and corporate chief of staff. “With our medical center and health system at an important inflection point and in a period of significant growth, I want to express my appreciation to Neal for assuming these new responsibilities. I look forward to working closely with him in this new role.”

“The time was right for this transition,” adds Johnson. “Neal has become an amazingly strong leader— both within HealthIT and throughout VUMC. I am confident that HealthIT is ready to carry on the tradition of VUMC’s informatics excellence, working even more closely now with the terrific faculty and staff in the Department of Biomedical Informatics (DBMI). This transition gives me time I need to help DBMI better align with the evolving role VUMC is playing in our region.”

Last week, VUMC was again named one of the nation’s “most wired” hospitals and health systems for its health IT innovation and leadership. The 2018 College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) HealthCare’s Most Wired Survey, which was released November 2, measures HIT use and adoption among U.S. hospitals.

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