Halamka To Leave Harvard Med School CIO Post

The hardest-working man in health IT will remain CIO at Beth Israel Deaconess and a Harvard faculty member.

Neil Versel, Contributor

July 22, 2011

3 Min Read

Healthcare Innovators

Healthcare Innovators

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Dr. John Halamka is relinquishing his growing but part-time duties as CIO of Harvard Medical School so the prestigious institution can bring in a full-time CIO. The hardest-working man in health IT is taking a step back but will continue to serve as CIO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston and the related CareGroup Health System, and will advise Harvard on IT strategy.

"The needs of the HMS IT stakeholders have evolved significantly during the past decade," Halamka wrote in a letter to Richard G. Mills, the school's executive dean for administration. "Over the last six months, for example, I have worked with the faculty to define the infrastructure and necessary applications to support advances in genomics, translational research, and image analysis. These new requirements are measured in petabytes, thousands of CPUs, and novel tools that are only beginning to emerge.

"This evolution in technology and our community's considerable needs have made it evident to me that HMS would be best served by a full-time CIO. It is also clear that additional resources would greatly benefit the research community," Halamka continued.

Halamka has been half-time CIO of HMS since 2001. He has held the CIO position at Beth Israel Deaconess since 1998. Halamka also serves as chair of the public-private Healthcare Information Technology Standards Panel, which has been working to harmonize the many health IT technical standards, and co-chair of the Health IT Standards Committee an advisory panel to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. He co-founded the New England Health EDI Network.

Harvard recently promoted him to a full professor of medicine. A year ago, Halamka made InformationWeek Healthcare's list of "Who's Who in Healthcare IT."

"John is a remarkable individual whose impact on information technology at HMS has reverberated around the country. Admired as a teacher, a prolific writer, and an emergency physician, John generously shares his expertise. Countries around the world have benefited immeasurably from his relentless quest to harness IT for the sake of healthcare reform, clinical efficiency, patient safety, and research," Harvard Medical School Dean Dr. Jeffrey S. Flier said in an email sent to the HMS community.

Halamka announced his decision on his Life as a Healthcare CIO blog very early Thursday morning--typical of someone known to sleep only four hours a night. "As I approach 50, I've become particularly introspective about the challenges in healthcare and medicine that lay ahead," he wrote.

"My senior leadership at BIDMC knows that we'll need novel approaches to healthcare information exchange for care coordination and population health management. They know we'll need new analytics, which include cost, quality, and outcomes. They want new tools to make these analytics available to every stakeholder, both outside and inside the EHR," Halamka continued. "At the same time, the science of medicine at Harvard Medical School (HMS) is becoming more computationally intensive."

Halamka said he will stay on the job until Harvard finds a successor, and will assist the school in its search. He also promised to remain an advisor to Flier on certain strategic projects, "especially those which require cross-affiliate and clinical coordination," the blog post said.

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About the Author(s)

Neil Versel


Neil Versel is a journalist specializing in health IT, mobile health, patient safety, quality of care & the business of healthcare. He’s also a board member of @HealtheVillages.

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