Meet Our Members: Doug Dormer

Doug Dormer, HIMSS Spirit Award Winner - December Doug Dormer, founder and CEO of White Pine Systems, LLC, is the recipient of the Spirit of HIMSS Award.

Established in 2003, the Spirit of HIMSS award recognizes members who exemplify the mission of HIMSS through their recent volunteer efforts within the Society. The award is given to a member or group of members monthly in recognition of their service to the advancement of the healthcare profession as encompassed by the HIMSS mission.

Dormeris founder and CEO of White Pine Systems, LLC, a provider of Internet-based, interoperable patient relationship management solutions based in Ann Arbor, Mich. White Pine's flagship product, SPINN, the Secure Personal Information & Notification Network, incorporates social media, online and mobile clinical tools and personal health records to connect patients, physicians, payers and hospitals around specific health interests such as diabetes, heart disease, substance abuse and low-birth weight pregnancy. The proven results include higher usage rates, improved outcomes and lower cost.

Dormer serves on the HL7 Personal Health Record Work Group, the HIMSS Personal Health Information Task Force, and the ONC's S&I Framework Advanced Blue Button Initiative workgroup.

A graduate of the University of Michigan, Dormer began his career as a certified public accountant with Coopers & Lybrand, where he co-authored a book on healthcare reform designed to help hospitals become more efficient. From 1991 to 2002, he served in management positions with Bottomline Technologies, Inc. a global provider of secure financial systems for the financial, healthcare and manufacturing industries. More recently, Dormer has served in senior management positions in publicly traded and start-up firms dealing with IT security and emergency response.

HIMSS: How did you become involved with HIMSS?

Dormer: I've been involved in health IT indirectly for a long time, so I've been aware of HIMSS for many years, and always thought of it as a key resource. In 2006, when we formed our company focused on patient engagement, it was obvious that HIMSS would be the most important trade association in which we would participate. I attended my first annual HIMSS Conference & Exhibition in 2007, and have been striving to contribute ever since.

HIMSS: What has been the most rewarding aspect of your involvement with HIMSS?

Dormer: Easily, the people. It amazes me, in an organization as big and diverse as HIMSS, everyone is so accessible and easy to approach and engage. This value, reflecting HIMSS leadership, is impossible to overstate.

HIMSS: Please describe some of the milestone events in your career.


  • Early in my career, around 1983, while working at Coopers & Lybrand (now PwC), I co-wrote a course book intended to help hospitals control costs by teaching clinic and department managers to operate as "profit centers," not "cost centers." Now, all these years later, we might finally be making some progress toward controlling cost while improving outcomes. That must be a milestone, as it started me on a road I am still on all these years later.
  • My dad was the longest-living survivor in the first group of people ever to receive insulin as a treatment for diabetes. One day in 1960, he had a reaction-either too much insulin or not enough. The ambulance took him to the other hospital in our small town where he was not known. The ED staff assumed he was drunk, and left him on a gurney to sleep it off, which resulted in his death. While the direct cause of his death was diabetes, the real cause was a lack of health information exchange, care coordination and patient engagement—the very things HIMSS is leading the way to solve now, in 2012. In 2008 we went live with our own In Case of Emergency system, which includes an automated notification feature that sends text or email messages when someone receives medical attention. This is a milestone event, as technology such as this may have saved my dad's life, if it had existed in 1960.
  • Finally, while every new client and every new patient is a milestone, a major milestone occurred in August, 2012 when our client, Centerstone of Indiana, hosted its Virtual Grand Opening. Centerstone had over 350 participants learning about a new online substance abuse system called the Electronic Recovery Oriented System of Care (e-ROSC). E-ROSC is making a real difference by helping providers improve access to their services for people with substance abuse issues, while improving operating efficiency for the provider. It follows the same model we're using for palliative health, elder care, diabetes, COPD and other sets of health interests. Hearing and reading the positive experiences from consumers and clinical staff alike makes it all worthwhile.

HIMSS: How did you demonstrate leadership to earn this award?

Dormer: I try to be a good foot soldier for HIMSS. We have great volunteers, executives and leaders, like Kate Christensen, David Rowe, Brad Tritle, Mary Griskewicz, senior director, health information systems, and so many others. I deliver tasks that give value. Since I also serve on the HIMSS PHR Work Group and other committees, I also try to serve as a liaison with my HIMSS colleagues, as much as possible. Most of my efforts are as a contributor to HIMSS white papers (such as the excellent social media white paper published in February, 2012). I also contribute to the HIMSS Blog and to HIMSS podcasts.

HIMSS: What are the most notable changes you've seen in the field of health IT over the course of your career?

Dormer: It would be easy to talk about the emergence of electronic health records, health information exchange or mobile technologies, but these pale in comparison to the real changes that these technologies have enabled. We're seeing new work flow for providers and new expectations for health care services from consumers. These are fundamentally re-defining the entire healthcare continuum. The shift from provider-centric to consumer-centric healthcare has begun. The result will be a new balance between providers and consumers.

HIMSS: What advice would you give professionals just entering the healthcare or IT field?

Dormer: This is a once-in-a-life-time opportunity. After years when healthcare lagged other industries in its use of technology, health IT is now at the center of innovation. Through our work in health IT, we can impact both individuals and society, and achieve rewarding professional goals while doing so. Now is the time. Don't be shy. Be creative. And become a part of the family that is HIMSS.