Health Data Management launched the EHR Game Changers program in 2010 to honor individuals who have been true game changers in the design, advocacy, deployment and development of electronic health records technology.

The program is open to individuals from across the spectrum of industry stakeholders--hospitals, group practices, payers, associations, federal and state governments, and health technology vendors--who have helped in the evolution of EHR technology and its increasing adoption by provider organizations.
This year’s program garnered more than 50 nominations of individuals from all corners of the health care industry. The 2011 recipients, chosen by a panel comprising HDM editors and health I.T. leaders, are:

Earle Rugg, co-founder of Rural Health IT Corporation (RHITC).  As a frontier leader in health information exchange, Rugg was instrumental in the development of numerous HIEs, many of which link physicians in underserved rural areas to critical health services and specialists. Among those is Chatham Health Link, Savannah, Ga., which includes local medical clinics along with Memorial University Medical Center and St. Joseph’s/Candler Health Systems. The HIE strengthens the health care infrastructure for primary care, builds capacity within community safety net systems, improves access to health care, and links the uninsured and underinsured to a medical home.  Rugg also co-founded Payer Technologies together with the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. Payer Tech is a health care claims processing development and integration company focused on providing ITS/BlueCard services to small Blue Cross-Blue Shield (BCBS) plans.

Larry Garber, M.D., a practicing internist and the medical director for informatics at Fallon Clinic. Garber is vice chair of the Massachusetts eHealth Collaborative’s Executive Committee and a member of the Massachusetts State Health Information Technology and Health Information Exchange Advisory Committee.  He was the principal investigator on the five-year $1.5 Million AHRQ grant known as SAFE Health – the Secure Architecture For Exchanging Health Information. It is a federated edge-proxy server HIE written by the Fallon Clinic I.T. department, designed to simplify the patient consent process and to integrate clinical data directly into other EHRs. Garber designed a master patient index for the systems that now holds over 1 million patients.  The central Massachusetts health information exchange is currently live and self-sustaining using a federated patient “opt-in” consent model.  Garber is now leading the three-year, $2 million HHS/ONC HIE Challenge Project known as IMPACT - Improving Massachusetts Post-Acute Care Transfers.

Leon Hoover, CIO, Hendry Regional Medical Center. Hoover joined the 25-bed medical center, which operates nine remote clinics, 18 months ago and retooled the entire network, implementing a secure wireless network and overseeing two large expansion projects to bring the hospital into a state of the art facility. He and his team implemented a new EHR, a VoIP phone system, improved Internet services, and a disaster recovery plan, among other initiatives. His efforts were critical for the local community; the medical center, located in Clewiston, Fla., is in one of the most rural counties in the United States with an unemployment rate of 17.5 percent. The medical center operates as a safety net for the poor and last year provided more than $16 million in charity care.  There is not another hospital within more than 20 miles in any direction of the medical center, which is the only hospital in the county.

Ed Ricks, vice president of information services and CIO at Beaufort Memorial Hospital. To ensure the adoption of computerized physician order entry at the hospital, Ricks and his team at BMH developed a system to make technology “invisible” to physicians. Clinicians at BMH already had to remember six to eight passwords to access several applications many times throughout the day.  Ricks helped develop a solution that combines virtualized desktops, single sign-on and strong authentication to eliminate the password problem and provide one-touch access that enables physicians to tap their badges at workstations to access the information they need.  As the user moves to the next workstation, they tap their badge to log out of the previous session. As long as they are within the grace period defined by I.T., they can move throughout their shifts tapping their badges to log in and out of their sessions as they move throughout the hospital.

Brian Woods, M.D., Chief Medical Officer, NorthStar Anesthesia, P.A. Woods helped change the landscape of electronic anesthesia documentation by standardizing the capture of anesthesia information electronically across the diverse hospitals serviced by his group, NorthStar Anesthesia.  Woods championed the use of a unique electronic health record system: branded as “StarScribe.” The technology is provided by Shareable Ink, which is a cloud-based software platform that incorporates natural input tools, such as digital pen and paper technology.  This approach enables providers to continue documenting in their familiar fashion while simultaneously converting the information to structured, clinically-encoded data. Data analytics give NorthStar and its hospital partners insight into their operations -- from a clinical, quality and efficiency standpoint -- all previously inaccessible from traditional paper records.

Ramsey Evans, CEO at Prognosis Health Information Systems. Working with Isaac Shi, a software developer who had previously developed iHotelier, Evans created the Prognosis HIS system, which marries Web-native applications and cloud computing to make it possible for rural hospitals to afford – and quickly use – EHRs. Because the system can operate in the “cloud,” users can access a shared pool of configurable computing resources (such as networks, servers, storage, applications and services) that can be rapidly provisioned.  In essence, the system makes it possible for rural and community hospitals to overcome all of the typical cost and user acceptance barriers to successful EHR implementation. The Prognosis HIS system is being used, for example, to support the West Texas RHIO, an innovative initiative where all hospitals purchase the EHR under one license – and each of the providers tap into one centralized solution.

Co-recipients: Jamie Bennett, program manager, Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record (VLER) Health Office, Office of Standards and Interoperability, Department of Health Informatics, Office of Informatics and Analytics, Veterans Health Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs; and Brian Morgan, information technology program manager, Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record (VLER) Nationwide Health Information Network (NwHIN) Program Management Office (PMO), Office of Information and Technology, Department of Veterans Affairs.

It’s estimated that Veterans receive 70 percent of their health care services in the private sector and in Department of Defense military medical treatment facilities.  Jamie Bennett directed Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) health business teams to collaborate with Brian Morgan’s VA information technology teams to establish bidirectional information exchange of structured electronic health record data through the Nationwide Health Information Network between 12 VA Medical Center communities, multiple private sector health information exchanges, and providers and selected DoD locations. The result was the launching  of VA’s Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record interoperability pilot program.

The 2011 EHR Game Changers recipients will be the subjects of more in-depth profiles in early 2012.

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