Don Detmer, MD, Receives 2010 Morris F. Collen Award

November 12, 2010

Bethesda, MD– Don E. Detmer, MD, is to receive the 2010 Morris F. Collen Award from AMIA, the association for informatics professionals,  in recognition of his longstanding efforts to advance the field of biomedical and health informatics and in so doing, improve health care in the United States and around the world.

The prestigious award is to be presented at the opening session of AMIA’s 34th Annual Symposium on Biomedical and Health Informatics on November 15, in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Detmer served as President and Chief Executive Officer of AMIA for 5 years, 2004-09. Though he stepped down from his post, he is still active as Senior Advisor to the AMIA’s current President and CEO, and as an educator. He is Professor Emeritus at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, and Visiting Professor at the Centre for Health Informatics and Multiprofessional Education (CHIME) at University College London, London, UK.

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 informatics – or 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 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 said.

The U.S. government has also come to believe in the importance of clincal informatics and electronic health records. It has set aside $28 billion to fortify and promote medical informatics so that doctors across the country can start to use the technology in a meaningful way.

The 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 knew as far back as the 1940s that some kind of organized record keeping was going to be needed. He helped Kaiser and the Kaiser Shipyards during World War II do a better job of taking care of pneumonia patients and 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 joins an illustrious group of Morris F. Collen award recipients. 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)

AMIA, the leading professional association for informatics professionals, serves as the voice of the nation’s top biomedical and health informatics professionals and plays an important role in medicine, health care, and science, encouraging the use of data, information and knowledge to improve both human health and delivery of healthcare services.