Meet Our Members: Marion J. Ball, EdD, FAAN, FCHIME, FHIMSS, FACMI

Marion J. Ball, EdD, FAAN, FCHIME, FHIMSS, FACMI, is a former vice chair of the HIMSS Board and is a recipient of the HIMSS’ 50 in 50 Award, which recognizes the memorable achievements to the field or body of knowledge of healthcare information technology and management systems. She received this award at the 2011 Annual HIMSS Conference & Exhibition in Orlando on Feb. 22.

Ten individuals were recognized for each of the five decades since the founding of the organization in 1961. Eligibility for the award looked at accomplishments during the particular decade of consideration for the candidate. Professional accomplishments, contributions to the body of professional knowledge, thought and organizational leadership, as well as HIMSS membership, was also considered during the recipient election process.

Nominations opened in November 2010, and recipients were selected by the former HIMSS Boards of Directors.

Ball has served on the HIMSS Board twice, first from 1992 to 1995, and again in the 2000s; she served as vice chair for the HIMSS Board in 2007.

In the early 1990s, Ball worked to expand HIMSS’ membership to clinical informaticists. She is the senior editor of Nursing Informatics: Where Caring and Technology Meet, 2nd Edition, 1996, which received the Book of the Year award from the American Journal of Nursing. The 4th edition of Nursing Informatics “Where Technology and Caring Meet “ was published earlier this year.

This is one of over 25  titles she has published.

Ball was a founding member of the Microsoft Health Users Group. She received the Morrie Collen Award from the American Medical Informatics Association and is an honorary member of the Medical Library Association and American Health Information Management Association.

Ball also served as president of the International Medical Informatics Association (IMIA) from 1992 through 1995, and was awarded honorary life membership in IMIA, and in 2010 she received the highest International Medical Informatics Associstion’s  honor, entitled the Award of Excellence... She is also an elected member of the Institute of Medicine (IOM).

Ball is a co-editor of the Springer series on health informatics, and serves on the editorial boards of a number of health informatics journals. She also published over 250 articles pertaining to health informatics. She has been a full professor at the University of Maryland and is Professor Emerita at John Hopkins University. At the University of Maryland, she served as vice president for information services and CIO for the academic schools of medicine, nursing, dentistry, pharmacy, law and social work. Ball is currently senior advisor of the Healthcare and Life Sciences Institute at IBM Research.

HIMSS: How did you become involved in HIMSS?

Ball: I am one of the early members of HIMSS, and have been involved with the organization for almost 50 years. I was involved in HIMSS when it was still part of the American Hospital Association, and I was on the board when HIMSS was transitioning from the AHA to its own separate entity. I was at the early meetings, and the membership and conference attendance has grown exponentially. It has been great to watch HIMSS grow and develop.

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

Ball: Participating in the HIMSS community gave me the opportunity to be involved with kindred spirits. I am able to meet and talk with people dealing with similar problems, exchange ideas, and receive satisfaction in knowing that this organization is there to help me become a better employee. Over time, my fellow HIMSS members have become close personal friends.

HIMSS: What was the greatest challenge you faced in your position as the vice chair of the HIMSS Board?

Ball:  In 2005, the annual meeting was scheduled to be held in New Orleans; however the meeting was to take place after Hurricane Katrina hit. The board debated whether we should continue to hold the meeting there or if we should we relocate on short notice. It was a real challenge; however, we eventually decided that we would support New Orleans, even though we predicted that fewer people would come. Attendance was slightly lower; however, showing our support was the right thing to do. The board was very active and we were very fortunate to have Steve Lieber and Carla Smith as leaders, as they took each of our opinions to heart.

HIMSS: What are some of the most notable changes you’ve seen in the field of health IT?

Ball: Within the last couple of years, there has finally been a major push for the EHR by the government.  Society is becoming aware of the importance of preventative medicine, as opposed to treating those who have already become ill. We need to move from a sick care system to a healthcare system and I think we are on our way!

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

Ball: I would advise them that if you aren’t passionate about what you do, if you are not willing to give it your all, this is not the profession for you. You have to be convinced that you can make a difference. First, we need to work towards transforming healthcare, and then, bring the technology to bear as an enabler.