William A. Yasnoff, MD, PhD, FACMI

Year Elected: 
American Medical Association

Currently: National Health Information Infrastructure (NHII) Advisors

Web site: www.nhiiadvisors.com

William Yasnoff is Medical Director, AMA/Net, the American Medical Association’s nationwide online information service for physicians (Chicago). He is a graduate of both Northwestern University’s Honors Program in Medical Education and its MD-PhD program, receiving his B.S. in Medical Sciences (1974), MD (1975), and PhD in computer science (1980). During a senior medical school elective at Harvard’s Laboratory for Computer Science at Massachusetts General Hospital, he wrote the information flow documentation for the COSTAR ambulatory medical record system. While a graduate student, he developed and implemented a technique for reprocessing of CT scans to direct stereotactic brain biopsies that was rapidly adopted in routine patient care and approved for reimbursement. The first of his three dissertation-related publications describing his development and validation of a quantitative error measure for assessing the accuracy of computer algorithms for identifying objects within images ("Error Measures for Scene Segmentation" Pattern Recognition 9:217-231, 1977) was the Honorable Mention Winner of the Fourth Annual Pattern Recognition Society Award in 1977. That same year, he co-authored an invited paper ("Computer Techniques for Cell Analysis in Hematology") at the very first SCAMC meeting. In 1980, he also completed his internship in internal medicine at Rush-Presbyterian St. Luke’s Medical Center (Chicago).

From 1980-82, he served as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medical Computer Science at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Dallas (UTHSCD). From 1982-3, he was Assistant Professor, Department of Radiology, and Computer Science Advisor, Medical Computing Resources Center, UTHSCD. In that role, he developed and implemented an institutional system for consultation, review, and approval of all computer purchases in response to a state legislative mandate. The system was highly praised by both the President of the medical center and the head of the state-level group responsible for supervising compliance, and the guidelines developed were used as a model for other Texas state agencies.

From 1983-5, he was Assistant Professor and Director, Cardiology Image Processing, in the Cardiology Division of the Department of Medicine at Medical College of Ohio (Toledo), where he continued his pattern recognition and image analysis research and supervised the use of image analysis methods in routine patient care. In 1985, he returned to Chicago as Vice President of Research, Cell Analysis Systems, where he developed and implemented the first PC-based image analysis system to quantitate DNA content of individual cells on slides (used to evaluate cells from tumors to assess patient prognosis). In 1986, he started his own company, Morphometrix, that developed software for quantitating cerebral blood flow in Ceretec brain SPECT images as well as other image analysis applications for organizations such as NASA. He also reviewed and evaluated high-tech business investment opportunities in the medical and life sciences as a key advisor to Columbine Venture Partners (Englewood, CO).

In 1987, he joined AMA/Net where he developed the marketing plan that expanded this electronic information network for physicians from 4,000 to 40,000 subscribers in sixty days. He redesigned AMA/Net’s literature searching, electronic mail, bulletin board, and drug interactions services, and commercialized the first nationally available expert system to assist physicians in therapeutic decision-making (Hypertension Advisor, developed by Perry Miller, MD, PhD, at Yale University). He is also the author of a regular monthly column on “Computers and Medicine” for American Medical News.