The Life and Times of Dave Garets, Former HIMSS Chair

Dave Garets, a former HIMSS Chair, passed away the morning of March 28 at the age of 73, having battled Parkinson’s disease for several years. Dave made a major impact on the healthcare IT industry. 

“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.”

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. As a result, Dave left his mark on the industry, the capture of healthcare data used in research to improve care outcomes and care safety, and delivering standardized care protocols to support lower cost and higher quality of care.

From the early days of Dave’s exploits, stories are told about his nightly guitar playing at local Idaho spots. He used this musical skill at several HIMSS events over the years to create a unique identity for his presentations. Dave’s introduction to IT was developed at AT&T. Dave was then an accomplished CIO for Magic Valley Hospital in Twin Falls, Idaho, for several years.

He moved on to management consulting with Author D. Little before joining Gartner as a VP for healthcare research and analytics. At Gartner, Dave demonstrated his executive management skills by successfully managing a group of research analysts who were highly intelligent, accomplished and opinionated. Dave loved being at the front and center of emerging healthcare technologies and regulations. He relished being on stage presenting well-thought-out and defensible positions for using healthcare IT to improve healthcare. He promoted healthcare IT across the U.S. and at international venues. Dave’s involvement with driving healthcare research provided him the platform to establish relationships with other powerful healthcare IT executives in provider, payer and vendor organizations.

Dave joined HealthLink to help drive consulting services for providers, and it was during his time at Healthlink that Dave was asked to be the Chair of HIMSS.

Dave was instrumental during his HIMSS leadership tenure. As both a former CIO and vendor, Dave was able to speak to all audiences and helped reinforce HIMSS's position as a a non-partisan organization committed to reforming the global health ecosystem.

During Dave's term as HIMSS Chair, HIMSS took the entire health information technology sector in new directions that shaped HIT adoption trends and federal HIT policy for more than a decade. When Dave resigned as HIMSS Chair, he was was hired to lead HIMSS Analytics. Dave again demonstrated his executive management skills by creating an empowered and progressive culture that generated an accurate and highly respected provider IT market database solution. Dave helped develop EMRAM, which has been used to objectively identify acute care EMR capabilities in hospitals. This model provided a simple and accurate assessment of provider EMR capabilities for supporting healthcare delivery.

Dave’s promotion of EMRAM in the U.S. and internationally was a key factor in its market adoption, success and impact on the EMR market and federal health policy. The model ultimately became deeply connected to the U.S. government’s efforts to spur the adoption of electronic medical records.

Dave was recruited by the Advisory Board Company to create a research and advisory service. This service was the first service at the Advisory Board that was completely electronic in format. Dave also helped promote new consulting services for the company related to Meaningful Use regulations and the emerging ICD-10 coding system. Dave retired from the Advisory Board, but he continued to take on consulting projects that kept him busy working with his wife, Claire, which kept him connected to the healthcare IT market.

Dave helped drive healthcare IT advancements that resulted in considerable improvements for the market and is irreplaceable in his zest for driving healthcare IT to enable higher levels of high-quality healthcare services. He created and developed strong corporate teams, he navigated around potential corporate disruptions, he was the Chair of HIMSS and participated in CHIME’s CIO boot camp training curriculum for several years, and he mentored his teams.

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