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The latest from Dean Cerra on Health Informatics


Frank B. Cerra to ALL-AHC-ALL show details 11:55 AM (21 minutes ago) Dear Colleague,

Last month I introduced the framework for reshaping informatics within the AHC. Today, I'd like to provide further information and an update on the implementation process for this new approach. I've heard questions about this transition from a number of you, so wanted to offer further context for this decision.

First, I want to clarify that this change is based on the rapid reshaping of our changing health system, including the payment systems that support improving quality and reducing the cost of care; the development of new care models across the continuum of life; and the substantive increase in access to care. All of these changes are ultimately dependent on the right information being in the right place at the right time to make the right decision -- either for a population or an individual. This is the focus and purview of health information technology (HIT).

I've learned much from our faculty in informatics, those who use the tools of informatics, and the stakeholders in HIT development within and outside the University. It is apparent that the academic, research, and service needs of our faculty and professional students require an expanded scope of effort. Our previous approach was recognized as a weakness in our Clinical and Translational Science Award applications, which helped move us into an expanded platform that will support our future success in a health reform world. It's clear we need to continue our efforts in electronic health records, evidence-based practice, and access to patient data for patient care. We also need to develop data exchanges and databases that support such functions as clinical trials, clinical research, clinical outcomes research, clinical analytics, and areas of clinical management and population health.

As structured, the Institute for Health Informatics, with the efforts of lead faculty, Julie Jacko, Ph.D., was successful in building an effective base for this expanded scope of development. The recent awarding of the University Partnership for Health Informatics (UP-HI) is but one example of this success. On this base, it is now time to build an expanded AHC Biomedical Health Informatics program. I would like to extend my sincere thanks to Professor Jacko for her successes and for her continued involvement with the Institute.

The AHC Informatics program will support HIT development, the education of health professionals and information specialists, and implementation for transformative change in both increased quality and reduced cost of health. This will be accomplished through:

-- research to develop new HIT tools,
-- partnerships with industry, and
-- the development of applications in clinical practice.

This new approach was reviewed and approved by the President and senior University leadership. Clicking here will take you to the summary of this approach that appeared in the June 24, 2010 issue of News Capsules. The plan is now being implemented, and here is a summary:

1. The position of Director, Biomedical Health Informatics has been created as the lead for the development of AHC informatics. This position is also the Acting Director of the Institute for Health Informatics, the PI of the informatics portions of CTSI/CTSA, and will participate in the University Interdisciplinary Informatics Initiative.

2. At my request, Connie Delaney is currently filling the position of Director, Biomedical Health Informatics. She will also continue as Dean of the School of Nursing and, with the full support of the faculty and staff of the School, suitable arrangements have been put in place to support this role. The search for a senior biomedical health informaticist is underway.

3. The Institute for Health Informatics remains an institute in the AHC to serve all the health sciences schools and encompasses such programs as the graduate program in health informatics, faculty development, educational programs in informatics, and research programs. Stuart Speedie will be the Co-Director. There also is action in the development of an e-health research initiative. The Deans Advisory Group has been reconstituted, a Faculty Advisory Group will be formed, and an external review undertaken.

4. The recruiting of additional faculty leadership in biomedical informatics is well underway.

5. AHC Informatics and the "bio" component of informatics constitute the University's Interdisciplinary Informatics Initiative. The synergy within this initiative is a critical success factor for AHC Informatics.

The plan to develop a data exchange among AHC, UMP, and Fairview is in the final stages of development and will soon be launched. I will have more information on this initiative soon.

This AHC Informatics Initiative is critical for the success of our research, education, and clinical programs in the emerging world of health and health care. As always, I am open to your comments and suggestions; my e-mail remains secure: cerra001@umn.edu

Frank B. Cerra, M.D.
Senior Vice President for Health Sciences
Medical School Dean

This is really a little too much...

There is another little problem, the issue of double dipping that has so far been swept under the rug by both the U administration and the General Counsel's office. See, for example: Old Story, Still No Answers.

As of today, Professor Jacko is listed on the University website: "Dr. Jacko directs the Institute for Health Informatics, a research institute of the University of Minnesota's Academic Health Center."

When the original double-dipping matter blew up, Dr. Cerra appointed her as "lead faculty" rather than as Director, but that description seems to have since mutated:

I have asked Prof Julie Jacko to serve as lead faculty for the Institute for Health Informatcs (IHI).

I believe IHI needs to move forward and continue its development. Frank Cerra [21 July 2008]

"I think people will think what they want to think,"
Cerra said, in response to possible criticisms of appointing someone who is under investigation. [Daily: 30 July 2008]

Come clean on this? Tell the truth and shame the devil? We have to put this behind us and by that I do not mean continue to ignore it.

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