Intermountain Healthcare is taking a leap forward in medical informatics as it opens and develops a new center to support its clinical information systems. The Intermountain Homer Warner Center for Informatics Research officially opens on February 16, 2011 on the campus of Intermountain Medical Center in Salt Lake City.
Named after Homer R. Warner, MD, PhD, the center honors one of the industry's recognized fathers of clinical computer systems.
"With the growing emphasis in and the importance of medical informatics we will continue to grow in this area with employees and their research," said Marc Probst, Intermountain's chief information officer. "The collaborative work that will happen in this center will accelerate the rate of change in developing information system tools to help doctors and nurses better care for patients."
"Thanks to the hard work and vision of Dr. Homer Warner and his colleagues, Intermountain has an outstanding legacy on which to build all of its future information systems," Probst said.
Intermountain has been an industry leader in using computers in the practice of medicine for several decades. Beginning in the mid-1950s, Dr. Warner began his work using computers for decision support in cardiology at LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City. His ground-breaking work set the stage for the growth of the new field of academic study called medical informatics. In the 1970s, Dr. Warner and his Intermountain colleagues created one of the nation's first versions of an electronic medical record. Designed to assist clinicians in decision-making, Intermountain's now famous HELP system has been operational for nearly 40 years. Dr. Warner is emeritus chair of the University of Utah's Department of Medical Informatics. He was also a senior member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and president of the American College of Medical Informatics.
"The complexity of modern medicine exceeds the capacity of the unaided expert mind. Good practice means good focus," said Brent James, MD, Intermountain's chief quality officer. "Good focus means the right information and the right format at the right time. That requires carefully designed systems, a context in which physicians and nurses can work."
"Dr. Warner identified the field and then defined that field," James said. "It's hard to describe that contribution, not just to Intermountain, not just to the medical profession, but to the patients that we serve. Frankly, building on Homer's foundation, we're now on the cusp of a massive transformation of care delivery."
Advanced information systems help caregivers improve medical delivery and outcomes. For example, these systems automate routine functions, facilitate communication among caregivers, support decision-making processes, and allow statistical analysis to help improve care processes and implement best medical practices.
Beginning in 2005, Intermountain has partnered with GE Healthcare to develop and implement the next generation clinical information system. More than a medical record, Intermountain's system gives decision support as well as allows clinicians the ability to provide input on possible care options that have been proven to provide the best patient outcomes.
Intermountain's Homer Warner Center for Informatics Research will centralize 60 full-time healthcare IT positions, many of which are new positions created with the center. Within the next ten years, Intermountain expects to need an additional 100 informatics specialists.