Q&A with Sameer Badlani

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 - SameerBadlani
Sameer Badlani, M.D.

Earlier this month AMDIS named Sameer Badlani, MD, CMIO at University of Chicago Medicine, secretary on its board of directors. He recently took some time to talk to CMIO.net about his new role with AMDIS, as well as his responsibilities at the University of Chicago.

What will you be focusing on in your new position in AMDIS?

One focus will be on bringing in more members—new CMIOs and medical directors of informatics who are doing innovative things and changing the way in which we practice informatics.

The second thing I want to focus on is to get AMDIS more closely aligned with HIMSS (Health Information & Management Systems Society) and AMIA (American Medical Informatics Association) and other organizations that play roles in the field of clinical informatics. We don’t collaborate as often as we should. For example, ICD-10 is a really good example of an area where AMDIS, HIMSS and AMIA have the same agenda, and if we could push that agenda together we could make more headway with ONC and CMS than if we’re doing things individually.

How can you accomplish this?

Relationship building is very important. My plan is to start reaching out to people with similar roles in AMIA. All of us are members of different organizations and we can use these connections we already have with decision makers and influencers in all of these communities and get talking about issues like ICD-10 or our struggles with Stage 2 of Meaningful use.

Can you talk about your role as CMIO at the University of Chicago?

I created the role of CMIO at the University of Chicago and have been in that role since 2011. My main job is to lead the clinical informatics portfolio for the organization, which includes standard aspects like EHR implementation and optimization, and generating value out of our multi-million dollar EHR investment. But these days we are, like many other organizations, building a big data and analytics platform and focusing on population health, so my job is to make sure our informatics infrastructure supports whatever strategy the organization chooses.

I’m also an academic and enjoy teaching a lot. Along with a colleague I just started a certification course in clinical informatics, and our plan is to leverage the Graham School of Continuing Liberal and Professional Studies (at the University of Chicago) and turn the certification course into a master’s program over the next couple of years.

And, I’m still a practicing hospitalist and also teach medical students and residents. It takes up about 20 percent of my time.

How do you balance all of those responsibilities?

With a lot of coffee and diet Coke. It can get tough, but a lot of my clinical work involves working with residents and medical students and supporting my colleagues in research projects in informatics. I try to find partners I can collaborate with. The thing about informatics is that 10 years ago it was the nerdy thing to do, five years ago it became the cool thing to do and now it’s fundamental. You can’t run a hospital or do research in clinical medicine without the help of informatics, so everything we do is dependent on informatics. That allows me to combine all of my interests, passions and responsibilities—and I just try to do the best I can.

How do you see the role of CMIO evolving over the next five years?

As an association for CMIOs and medical directors of informatics, AMDIS is a collective group of thought leaders who by pure participation in the community will be driving the CMIO role into the next five years. What I hope, and what I’m observing, is that a lot of CMIOs will start to take on more operational responsibilities in their organizations. Many individuals who still maintain the CMIO title own more operational units within their organizations simply because informatics is fundamental to how we deliver care these days.

And I hope—and there are a few CMIOs going this route—that more of us become entrepreneurs and innovators. That is desperately needed. I’m a big believer in Meaningful Use and what it is trying to achieve, but the challenge it poses on my day-to-day life leaves very little time for innovation. If you have a project that’s not helping you comply with the Affordable Care Act, PQRS, or Meaningful Use, then you’ll have a tough time justifying spending resources on it. So I really admire the select group of CMIOs and medical directors of informatics who are making sure that they have enough time for innovation.

I think the role of AMDIS should