The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) has presented a 2016 Triumph Award in Literary Legacy to Sajeesh Kumar, PhD, interim executive director and chair of the Institute for Health Outcomes and Policy Research at UT Health Science Center. Dr. Kumar is also an associate professor in the Department of Health Informatics and Information Management (HIIM) in the College of Health Professions.
One of the organization’s most prestigious awards, the honor recognizes individuals who have made significant literary contributions to the field of health information management. “To be recognized among some of the field’s greatest is an absolute honor,” Dr. Kumar said. “Today, I am more committed than ever to higher education in health care that has brought me so much joy and success.”
Dr. Kumar’s research focuses on design and development of health informatics technology, telehealth and health technology evaluation. “Telemedicine uses telecommunications to deliver health care, with the possibility of cost savings, particularly in remote and rural areas,” he said. “It is a multidisciplinary undertaking requiring expertise from telecommunications, health care and information technology sectors. Telemedicine needs to be implemented carefully and managed well. The adoption of sound policies and strategic plans that guarantee the provision of high-quality, sustained and integrated health care services to the population are the challenges.
“Initially considered simply an enabling technology for increasing the access to health care in underserved regions, telemedicine is seeing a greater recognition of its applicability to the entire health care delivery system,” Dr. Kumar said. “In short, telemedicine can place medical and health resources where they need to be — near the patient.”
Dr. Kumar has extensive international experience in health care higher education, research and service. He has won several research awards, edited six books on health informatics and published scientific papers in high-impact journals, such as The Lancet and Nature. He also has an impressive record of competitive research funding and research awards.
At UTHSC, Dr. Kumar innovated the idea of the embedded librarian, which utilizes a virtual librarian and aids students through coursework with training and resources. He is an innovator in the use of computer gaming in the online teaching of Health Informatics Research.
Several students have had their first scientific publications through the active assistance of Dr. Kumar. “I encourage students to think on their own, inspiring them to prepare and deliver project reports, journal publications and conference presentations in a time-efficient, organized way,” he said.
Under his leadership, the Institute for Health Outcomes and Policy Research at UTHSC initiated a doctoral program track in Health Informatics, the first and only doctoral program for this specialty in the state of Tennessee.
Dr. Kumar firmly believes the use of health informatics technology will be a key element in the future of health care. “With experienced teams and integration of comprehensive approaches, UTHSC is well positioned to lead in the HIIM arena for years to come,” he said.