Dell Medical School Taps Medical Informatics Expert to Lead Population Health Department

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Dr. William Tierney, an internationally recognized leader in medical informatics and health services research who has devoted his career to creating innovation, value and efficiency in health care delivery, will be the inaugural Chair of Population Health for the Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin.

Population health refers to the overall health and well-being of a defined population that an organization has responsibility for. Dr. Tierney said the Dell Medical School’s Department of Population Health will partner with strong, existing community and academic programs to create new strategies and programs to improve overall health and well-being among the residents of Austin and Travis County.

Dr. Tierney comes to Austin from the Regenstrief Institute, one of the country’s most respected research institutions dedicated to improving health and health systems, where he currently serves as President and CEO and where he has worked for more than three decades. Closely affiliated with Indiana University School of Medicine, the Regenstrief Institute is a renowned informatics and health care research organization, recognized for its role in improving quality of care, increasing efficiency of health care delivery, preventing medical errors and enhancing patient safety. 

He will assemble a team to work with a range of providers, community organizations and other partners to improve health through increasing access to primary care specialties, enhancing public health activities, improving health services, strengthening community-based participatory research, and developing a state-of-the-art health informatics infrastructure for Austin and Travis County, among other things.

“The Dell Medical School has taken on the responsibility of improving the health of the people of Austin and Travis County, enhancing their happiness and well-being. I fully support that goal,” Dr. Tierney said. “The people of Travis County have made a visionary investment in this medical school, and the Department of Population Health will provide dividends on that investment by creating innovative collaborative models to help people get and stay healthy.”

Dr. Clay Johnston, the Dell Medical School’s inaugural dean, said Dr. Tierney and his team will improve health across the community in ways that help realize the medical school’s vision of a vital, inclusive health ecosystem, while also making Travis County a model for the nation in population health. He noted that the Dell Medical School is among few medical schools nationally to create a Department of Population Health and focus on using teams of health care professionals to improve health of large populations — a crucial goal in trying to design health systems that better serve society.

“The opportunity to transform Austin into a model healthy city is really unmatched, and our ability to bring an international leader like Bill into the School is further demonstration that we are building momentum to make this a powerhouse of innovation in health,” Dr. Johnston said. “They’ll work closely with our partners across the community to ensure that Travis County residents benefit from the most creative, forward-looking health efforts in everything from treating diabetes to improving exercise and nutrition to supporting the elderly population.”

In addition to leading the Regenstrief Institute, Dr. Tierney is Associate Dean for Clinical Effectiveness Research at Indiana University School of Medicine, where he attended medical school and completed a residency in internal medicine. 

“Through Bill Tierney’s aspirations for better health, he has locally and globally advanced the field of health care informatics," said Thane Peterson, Executive Operating Officer of the Regenstrief Institute. "Bill is an exceptional leader with an unwavering commitment to reducing disease and improving lives."
Dr. Tierney has been the principal investigator or co-principal investigator on grants and contracts totaling more than $32 million. He has authored or co-authored 290 articles in peer-reviewed medical journals and is the past editor of the Journal of General Internal Medicine and co-editor-in-chief of Medical Care, the premier international peer-reviewed medical journal committed to health services research. He is a former president of the Society of General Internal Medicine, is a Master of the American College of Physicians, and a member of the National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine). He led the team of Americans and Kenyans that implemented the first and most successful outpatient electronic medical record system in sub-Saharan Africa.

Although he already is working on his plan for population health in Austin, he will officially join the Dell Medical School team in January.