Dr. Campbell receives international award for health records efforts

by Tom O’Connor, UNMC public relations

A leader in the development of a compatible worldwide system for electronic health records, UNMC’s James Campbell, M.D., has earned a prestigious international award for his pioneering work. 

Dr. Campbell, who has devoted nearly 30 years to development of an electronic health record system, received the first-ever Award for Excellence from the International Health Terminology Standards Development Organisation (IHTSDO), a non-profit association in Denmark.


IHTSDO evolved from a project that originated in the United States known as SNOMED CT (Systematized Nomenclature of Medicine–Clinical Terms). For years, Dr. Campbell was a proponent for the use of SNOMED CT in clinical settings primarily in the United States but also around the world.


More about Dr. Campbell

Hometown: Geneva, N.Y.

Education: Bachelor’s degree in physics, University of Rochester, (N.Y.); medical degree, UNMC, 1976

Training: Internal medicine residency and fellowship, UNMC

Faculty positions: Internal medicine instructor, 1980-1981; assistant professor, 1981-1990; associate professor, 1990-2000; professor, 2000-present.

Other positions: Medical director for clinical information systems development for UNMC’s hospital partner, The Nebraska Medical Center, 1998-present.


“There have been many barriers to making electronic health records a reality,” Dr. Campbell said. “With the free enterprise system, there are lots of different vendors who have the expertise. We needed to develop an infrastructure, and that’s where SNOMED CT comes in. It allowed us to standardize the various components of the medical record.”


 President Barack Obama has made electronic health records a priority in his administration, Dr. Campbell said.


“This is a critical element under President Obama’s economic stimulus package,” he said. “He has created incentives to encourage health care providers to get this done in the next two to three years. This has created a sense of urgency among providers.”


Dr. Campbell received the award at a gala conference dinner in Helsingor, Denmark, on March 31-April 1.


SNOMED CT has become an international operation, including foreign countries such as the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand, Singapore, Lithuania and Sweden.


 The Award of Excellence is given for outstanding contributions to the improvement of SNOMED CT and/or its successful implementation in any aspect of health and social care. IHTSDO officials said Dr. Campbell was recognized for volunteering hundreds of hours of his time to participate in weekly conference calls, provide support for document development, and schedule global face-to-face meetings.


“Since his innovative introduction of the electronic medical record at UNMC in the early 1980s, Jim has positioned UNMC to be a true leader in this area at both the national and international level.”

Lynell Klassen, M.D


In addition to his international work in standardizing electronic health records, Dr. Campbell also has been active in the electronic health information initiative in Nebraska. His work has earned the attention of his UNMC peers.

“Dr. Campbell has been a pioneer in the development and use of the electronic medical record,” said Lynell Klassen, M.D., professor and chairman of the UNMC Department of Internal Medicine. “Since his innovative introduction of the electronic medical record at UNMC in the early 1980s, Jim has positioned UNMC to be a true leader in this area at both the national and international level. His activities benefit our patients, our providers and the entire state on a daily basis.”


Date Published: Wednesday, May 27, 2009

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