Dave Garets, whose four decades of experience in healthcare and technology included work as a technical specialist at AT&T, a hospital chief information officer, a management consultant and early leadership at HIMSS Analytics, died Monday at age 73.
He passed away March 28, following a long battle with Parkinson’s disease.
Garets, whose work at AT&T in the 1980s was followed by years as CIO of Magic Valley Regional Medical Center in Idaho in the 1990s, was a visionary who saw the immense potential of information and technology to improve care delivery.
He was an early proselytizer about the value of electronic health records – but also warned about the importance of ensuring they’re implemented effectively. He also foresaw the evolving role of the healthcare CIO over the past decade or so, into “a business person as opposed to a technology person.”
As a remembrance posted by HIMSS explained, “Dave believed that if technology was uniformly adopted in healthcare, then caring for patients would be greatly enhanced and outcomes would improve and become more predictable.
“Two ideas formed from his healthcare IT experience. One was that the technology had to meet certain standards because healthcare IT affects people’s lives. The second idea was that healthcare IT had to be universally adopted to obtain the maximum benefit to society.”
His term as HIMSS board chair “took the entire health information technology sector in new directions that shaped HIT adoption trends and federal HIT policy for more than a decade,” according to HIMSS (parent company of Healthcare IT News).
In 2004, Garets was chosen to lead the new HIMSS Analytics division.
There, he co-developed its EMR Adoption Model, which over the past two decades has been the go-to assessment to benchmark health IT implementation and use in hospitals and ambulatory practices. His promotion of EMRAM in the U.S. and throughout the world was instrumental in helping drive uptake and effective deployment of technology at health systems large and small.
In 2011, Garets was voted one of the 50 most valuable contributors to health IT in the past half-century by HIMSS boards of directors.
His other professional experience includes tenures at CHIME, Gartner, The Advisory Board Company, Mountain Summit Advisors, and other healthcare and technology organizations.
“Dave was an incredible leader, pioneer and advocate for the power of information and technology to transform healthcare,” said Hal Wolf, president and CEO of HIMSS.
“As we work to reimagine health and health equity for all, we stand on the shoulders of giants like Dave. He often said, ‘We’re always better together than separate in the battle of care.’ The global health ecosystem has lost a great visionary in Dave, but we will continue to benefit from his tremendous contributions for years to come.”