Outstanding Achievement in Health Care Information Technology


Since health care information technology covers an extremely broad spectrum, our judges decided to break this category into subcategories to allow for a more appropriate comparison of nominees: IT providing direct, discrete solutions for specific problems and IT serving large coordinated hospital and clinic systems.

Ted Tanase

Discrete IT solutions
TED TANASE connects individuals and hospitals.

Ted Tanase created his health information company, Total Living Choices (TLC) in 1999 as a way to help families that need to place loved ones in skilled-care facilities outside the home. An entrepreneur and business leader in a variety of industries, he was chair of superbuild.com until it sold in 1999. Eleven years later, the web-based TLC is proving profitable even though its matchmaking remains free to the patients and families who use it to narrow their searches for nursing homes, assisted living and home-care choices.

It turns out that hospitals will pay for this streamlined combination of software and data because they can save money by placing patients into skilled facilities without weeks of delay. The hospitals use the same system from their own interface to place patients.

“Our system allows a nurse to send detailed medical records on a patient who needs placement and possibly get some responses within 30 minutes,” CEO Tanase says. The Veterans Administration is exploring TLC’s service in a pilot program, and could bring its nationwide network of 158 medical centers and 620 clinics into the system eventually.

Integrated IT systems (TIE)
James Fine at UW Medicine and Tom Wood at Swedish Medical Center streamlined operations by integrating information systems.

UW Medicine and Swedish Medical Center faced similar dilemmas: How to make the medical records of patients available and helpful in many different buildings and across disciplines—from researchers to radiologists to discharge nurses?

Under the leadership of chief information officer James Fine, UW launched an innovation known as ORCA, for Online Record of Clinical Activity. This electronic record allows people in seven different institutions, including Harborview and the UW School of Medicine, to read the same records for a patient or group of patients. ORCA allows for checklists and metrics to enhance patient safety and customer service.

The UW has also teamed with Microsoft, using its product Amalga Unified Intelligence System (UIS) to help make data readable across many different researcher platforms. UW completed a pilot program within the Institute of Translational Health Sciences, and will be expanding development of more products for researchers.

At Swedish Medical Center, chief medical information officer Tom Wood is credited with convincing 2,400 change-resistant physicians to convert to an advanced electronic health records system. An outstanding listener and leader, he helped doctors and nurses navigate their fear of change and technology. He created lean, physician-friendly templates (which were declared a national best practice) and used animation to explain one set of orders for pre- and post-surgical care that drew praise from colleagues at a national conference who called it “the clearest possible representation.”


Peter Gelpi, CEO, Clarity Health Systems

One challenge for health care providers in small, independent practices is sharing patient information among multiple practices. Poor coordination results in delayed and lower-quality care for patients. Clarity Health Systems has devised a solution: a simple, affordable, web-based platform that allows independent health care providers in Pierce County to coordinate care management and referrals.

Sunny Singh, CEO, Edifecs

For 15 years, Edifecs has been working to streamline health care information technology by automating administrative tasks, including those surrounding the privacy legislation known as HIPAA, with the goal of reducing operation costs and meeting compliance expectations. Edifecs is regarded as a thought-leader in the industry, and was recognized by Deloitte as one of North America’s fastest-growing companies in 2010.


How Vacuum Systems Will Change the Landscape for Health Care Facilities

How Vacuum Systems Will Change the Landscape for Health Care Facilities


Sponsored by MacDonald-Miller

The Polyclinic Northgate wanted to do something that had never been done before — create a medical clinic that could be rearranged in a weekend, located in virtually any building, and most importantly, a place that would not cost a lot to change in the future. How could there be a flexible system with the constraints that sewer lines currently impose on existing facilities? The Polyclinic turned to its mechanical contractor, MacDonald-Miller, to come up with a solution.

We interviewed Steve Amann, project executive, to find out how vacuum plumbing systems will revolutionize the healthcare industry.  

What is the vacuum system solution?

Vacuum plumbing is a modular drainage system, which allows for immediate and future room reconfigurations. Rather than the standard protocol of requiring slab penetrations to accommodate gravity drainage, vacuum piping serving waste fixtures is installed in overhead spaces, delivering wastewater to a central vacuum center that exits the building at a single, convenient location. 

How will this flexible system change the healthcare industry?

The vacuum system is the first ever application of its kind in a medical clinic utilizing demountable, movable interior walls. Now medical clinic spaces can be remodeled at a fraction of the time and cost formerly required given standard plumbing and fixed walls. This efficiency provides new opportunities for business while maximizing revenue. Now, health care teams can drive project decisions, rather than decisions being made by the constraints of an existing space layout, or lack of plumbing infrastructure.

How will it change the landscape for healthcare facilities?

Medical clinics can now be located in nontraditional locations, such as standard office buildings with lower lease rates than designated-use medical office buildings.

What is the environment and financial impact?

The environmental impact of vacuum toilets is substantially less compared to standard low-flush toilets. With only half a gallon per flush, tenants realize big savings on their water and sewer costs. The system also prevents waste pipe leaks, which occur in gravity-driven systems and contribute to a deterioration of a building’s health over time.

With the ever-changing nature of the health care industry and mounting price pressure, the combination of demountable walls and vacuum plumbing creates flexibility and provides long-term economic benefits — two elements which are in high demand within this emerging industry. 

MacDonald-Miller Facility Solutions is a full-service, design-build, mechanical contractor in the Pacific Northwest. Learn more about MacDonald-Miller’s recent projects.