Karl Cole wins Clinical Informatics Leadership Award 2021
eHealthNews.nz editor Rebecca McBeth
Karl Cole GP and Chief Clinical Information Officer at healthAlliance, Karl Cole, has won the 2021 Clinical Informatics Leadership Award.
In its third year, the award recognises the leadership, mahi and achievements of clinicians working in the field of data and digital health.
Nearly 1500 votes were cast to select the winner, who receives a free pass and speaking slot at a future HiNZ event and $5000 from Spark Health, to fund further study or attend a conference.
Over the past year, Cole has enabled the rapid digitisation of healthcare services across the Northern region in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
His nominator said one of Cole's strengths is to engage clinicians and consumers at the early stages of health IT projects, creating a collaborative, co-design approach that focuses on making the patient journey more seamless.
“Through his experience and mana, Cole provides inspiration and leadership. His expertise keeps teams firmly focused on the customer, be they clinicians, administrators or health consumers,” the nomination said.
Cole says he is thankful to all his mentors who have encouraged him over the years, saying “it’s been so valuable to step outside normal pathways and see what it is like for others”.
He says recognising the important role of clinical informatics is key to getting value out of digital health.
“It’s hard to define sometimes, but I can tell you what it is not, which is just a turning a paper form into a PDF on the screen,” Cole explains.
“It is building towards the dream of a single longitudinal health record that is available in all care settings and configurable to end users’ needs.”
A three-person judging panel; deputy director general data and digital Shayne Hunter; Clinical Informatics Leadership Award 2020 winner and clinical advisor digital innovations at Waitematā DHB, Lara Hopley; and HiNZ board chair and the 2019 award winner Rebecca George, selected the finalists.
The judges said Cole is a strong advocate for data liquidity and interoperability, which gives him a unique perspective on digital projects.
“Working across regions and multiple stakeholders, Cole has demonstrated strategic acuity and an ability to ensure technical solutions align with real world clinical implications,” they said.
The two other finalists for the award were Steve Earnshaw, Chief Clinical Innovation Officer 3DHB; and Ruth Large, Whakarongorau Aotearoa: New Zealand Telehealth Services, chief clinical officer.
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