HIMSS winners have arrows in their backs

Awards like this provide insight into what is important to people in the health IT field. Saving money, limiting mistakes, and wellness are big trends for 2010.

HIMSS is honoring some pioneers in Electronic Medical Record (EMR) technology this week with its highest award, the Nicholas E. Davies Award of Excellence. (Image from HIMSS of Nicholas E. Davies.)

The award, named for a pioneering medical librarian from Atlanta who was tragically killed in a 1991 plane crash, has been expanded since its 1994 debut to cover ambulatory and public health facilities, but it's centered on medical organizations, where the fight to build EMR systems has been especially hard.

This year the two biggest awards went to Nemours Childrens Health System of Delaware and Sentara Health of Virginia.

Nemours has been working on its Epic EMR since 2000. The main goal was to prevent mistakes, and it has used the system to effectively manage childhood obesity.

A 2009 study by Nemours physicians, based on EMR data, showed many pediatricians were doing expensive thyroid tests when they should have been counseling kids on overeating. Nemours put proper directives into its EMR software, aimed at assessing and changing behaviors. It's a good example of how EMRs can actually save money.

Since it began its work with EMRs Nemours has also been expanding, with new facilities in Central Florida. It won the battle to build a new hospital in Orlando based partly on its track record with the technology.

Sentara is based in southern Virginia and now has over 100 facilities there and in North Carolina. It began its work with EMRs in 2004, and is one of the very few organizations now at the top level of adoption, known as Stage 7.

What makes Sentara's case especially interesting was it made a change in 2006, to a Microsoft infrastructure, and made it pay. It credited its remote desktop control vendor, New Boundary Technologies, with helping it turn around a situation that threatened to spin out of control.

Sentara is also, still, an active customer, having just signed a contract for a new medication management system. The company has also built a fitness campus in Hampton, Virginia, leading a trend that is bound to grow with health reform.

Awards like this don't just honor technical excellence. They also provide insight into what is important to people in the health IT field. Saving money, limiting mistakes, and wellness are big trends for 2010.

A complete list and description of the award winners can be found here.

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