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Don Detmer, M.D., receives 2010 Morris F. Collen Award

Don E. Detmer, MD, MA, is to receive the 2010 Morris F. Collen Award from the American Medical College of Informatics, in recognition of his longstanding efforts to advance the field of biomedical and health informatics. The Collen Award is recognition of Dr. Detmer's personal commitment and dedication to medical informatics and the lasting impression he has made on the field. The prestigious award is to be presented at the opening session of AMIA's 34th Annual Symposium on Biomedical and Health Informatics, November 15, in Washington, DC.

Dr. Detmer, has promoted the field of biomedical informatics throughout his long career, from the time he was a surgical resident at Duke University to his tenure as President and Chief Executive Officer of the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) and now in his post-presidency position of Senior Advisor to the current AMIA President and CEO. He is Professor Emeritus and Professor of Medical Education at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, and Visiting Professor at the Centre for Health Informatics and Multi-professional Education (CHIME) at University College London, London, UK. He became the first health policy fellow at the Institute of Medicine (IOM) prior to taking a course on health management at Harvard Business School. Later, at University of Wisconsin-Madison, with a joint appointment in surgery and preventive medicine, he started the nation's first master's degree program to teach executive management to health professionals and received the Chancellor's Award for Distinguished Teaching. From there, he was invited to the University of Utah as Vice-President for Health Sciences and Professor of Surgery, where he also became Professor of Medical Informatics.

Historically, doctors have had to rely on memory in caring for their patients, but this is extremely difficult, if not impossible to do in today's era of exponentially exploding medical knowledge, Dr. Detmer said.

"Clinical informaticsor the meaningful use of electronic health records is not just a nice idea. It's essential if you are going to be able to deliver first-rate care," said Dr. Detmer. "The amount of knowledge needed is so great that unless you have a relationship with a computer, you're just not going to get the job done. The beauty of electronic health records is they give you a way to analyze not just one patient, but all patients who have similar disorders and characteristics. From this you can learn new research, how you are doing in terms of the care you are giving, and also gain immediate decision support," he explained.

The U.S. government also believes in the importance of informatics and electronic health records. It has set aside $19 billion to fortify and promote informatics so that doctors across the country can start to adopt the technology in a meaningful way.

This award is named after informatics pioneer, Morris F. Collen, MD, a founding physician of one of America's most outstanding health management organizations, Kaiser Permanente.

Dr. Collen realized the importance of electronic health records as far back as the late 1940s, even before the advent of computers as they are known today.

"Morrie Collen helped Kaiser and the Kaiser Shipyards during World War II do a better job of taking care of pneumonia patients and he started keeping patient records. He started screening patients, and he also started doing preventive medicine, and he made medical informatics practical and useful," Dr. Detmer said.

Dr. Detmer's bibliography is extensive and spans a number of fields relating to healthcare management, surgery, and information policy. His contribution to the field as a visionary leader was further punctuated by AMIA's establishment of the Don Eugene Detmer Award for Health Policy Contributions in Informatics.

Dr. Detmer joins an impressive group of Morris F. Collen Award recipients, many of whom are leading national efforts to modernize the national health system through the widespread best practice of informatics. Past recipients are:

  • Betsy Humphreys, MLS (2009)
  • Robert A. Greenes, MD (2008)
  • William W. Stead, MD (2007)
  • Edward Hance Shortliffe, MD, PhD (2006)
  • Reed M. Gardner, PhD (2005)
  • Clement J. McDonald, MD (2004)
  • W. Edward Hammond, PhD (2003)
  • Marion J. Ball, EdD (2002)
  • Howard L. Bleich, MD and Warner V. Slack, MD (2001)
  • Jean-Raoul Scherrer, MD, PhD, (2000)
  • Joshua Lederberg, PhD (1999)
  • Robert S. Ledley, DDS (1998)
  • Donald A.B. Lindberg, MD (1997)
  • G. Octo Barnett, MD (1996)
  • Homer R. Warner, MD, PhD (1994)
  • Morris F. Collen, MD (1993)


Contact: Nancy Light
American Medical Informatics Association

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