Published: Feb. 10, 2011

Medical information officer honored with national IT award

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EAST LANSING, Mich. — For his work in applying information technology and electronic medical record systems to the needs of physicians and patients - leading to better care and financial savings - MSU's Michael Zaroukian is receiving the 2010 Physician IT Leadership Award from the Healthcare Information Management and Systems Society.

Zaroukian serves as the chief medical information officer for the HealthTeam, Michigan State University's faculty group practice. He led the HealthTeam in becoming the first large practice in the area to implement an electronic medical records system, starting in 2001.

"We showed early on that there can be a really good financial return on investment using electronic medical records," he said. "We are able to use the system to redesign care and remove a lot of waste and redundancies while providing better quality care."

HIMSS, a global nonprofit dedicated to using IT and management systems to improve health care, will honor Zaroukian and other awardees Feb. 22 in Orlando, Fla., at the 2011 Annual HIMSS Conference & Exhibition awards banquet.

"The contributions of Dr. Zaroukian have helped move forward the adoption of health IT," said Patricia Wise, HIMSS vice president and liaison to the HIMSS physician community.

In addition to his role with the HealthTeam, Zaroukian is medical director of clinical informatics and care transformation at Sparrow Hospital in Lansing as well as a professor in MSU's Department of Medicine. He said that particularly in tough budget times, electronic medical records - and the MSU administration's support for embracing health IT to improve care - can make a huge difference.

"We are putting the patient at the center of care, using this system to improve quality while helping to eliminate waste and waiting," he said. "We can use IT to deliver better quality and value, something greatly needed in today's health care system."

Richard Ward, chief executive officer of MSU's HealthTeam, said Zaroukian has been instrumental in driving new technologies for the physician's group.

"We allow every one of our 230 physicians and nurse practitioners to access and update a patient's record from any location, resulting in more efficient, higher quality care," Ward said. "Dr. Zaroukian's strategic thinking and unwavering support have provided the HealthTeam with this critical advantage."

Zaroukian implores other physicians and health care administrators to embrace IT solutions.

"The vast majority of physicians I have encountered who have implemented and are regularly using electronic medical records and other IT solutions would not be willing to go back to using paper charts," he said.

"The value of being able to access any chart online in seconds - to have the information needed to care for patients anywhere and anytime, to get results as soon as they are available, to be able to get reminders to help deliver the care patients need and to be able to share the chart among multiple users at the same time - are immediate and compelling benefits."


Michigan State University has been working to advance the common good in uncommon ways for more than 150 years. One of the top research universities in the world, MSU focuses its vast resources on creating solutions to some of the world's most pressing challenges, while providing life-changing opportunities to a diverse and inclusive academic community through more than 200 programs of study in 17 degree-granting colleges.