Donald Connelly

Don Connelly

Donald Connelly begins by discussing his educational background, including his early interest in biomedical computing. He describes his first years in the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology including the state of computing in laboratories in the 1970s, the atmosphere of the Department, and his experiences as director of the Laboratory Data Division and acting director of the Outpatient Laboratory. Next, Dr. Connelly discusses his experiences as a Ph.D. student in the Division of Health Computer Sciences. He goes on to describe his early research developing ways to graphically display laboratory data to clinicians, and his subsequent research with Theodore Thompson, MD, to develop a clinical workstation for the University of Minnesota’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. He also describes his work developing an automated decision support system for blood bank personnel assessing requests for platelets. Dr. Connelly next discusses the courses he taught in the Division of Health Computer Sciences; the National Library of Medicine Training Grant programs; and the interdisciplinarity and interprofessionalism of health informatics. He reflects upon the leadership of Eugene Ackerman and Laël Gatewood, the challenges each faced due to the lack of strong institutional support for the Division of Health Computer Sciences, and the increased status of health informatics within the University following the establishment of the Clinical and Translational Science Institute. He also discusses his experiences directing the Division of Health Computer Sciences. Dr. Connelly briefly discusses the relationships between the Division of Health Computer Sciences and the Mayo Clinic, the Biomedical Library, and the Minnesota Department of Health. He next discusses work that he has done in the area of electronic health records. Dr. Connelly goes on to discuss the establishment of the Institute for Health Informatics; the directorship of Julie Jacko; and the establishment of the Master’s in Health Informatics. Finally, Dr. Connelly reflects on some of the major changes he has in health informatics observed over his career.

Interview Abstract

Donald Connelly received a BS in Electrical Engineering in 1964 and an MS in Electrical Engineering in 1965 from North Dakota State University. From 1965 to 1966, he worked as a digital design engineer at IBM in Rochester, Minnesota; in 1967 as an electrical engineer in the Section of Engineering at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester; and from 1967 to 1970 as a programmer in the Department of Physiology at the University of Minnesota. In 1971, he received a medical degree from the University of Minnesota. Between 1971 and 1972, Dr. Connelly completed an internship in internal medicine and between 1972 and 1974 a fellowship in Laboratory Medicine and Pathology at the University of Minnesota. Also from 1972 to 1974, Dr. Connelly was a Public Health Service Postdoctoral Fellow in Health Computer Sciences in the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology. In 1974, he was appointed assistant professor in the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology and director of the department’s Laboratory Information Systems Division – a position he held until 1998. In 1977, Dr. Connelly received a Ph.D. in Biometry and Health Information Systems from the University of Minnesota. Between 1985 and 1997, Dr. Connelly served as the associate director of the National Library of Medicine Training Program in Medical Informatics. From 1999 to 2001, he worked at iMcKesson LLC, a subsidiary of McKesson HBOC, Inc. focused on delivering health care technology services; he held the position of director of Clinical Product Design. From 2001 to 2008, Dr. Connelly served as Director of the Division of Health Informatics (renamed the Institute for Health Informatics in 2006). He also served as the director of the Informatics Shared Resource from 2001 to 2007 and co-director of the Biostatistics and Informatics Shared Resource from 2007 to 2009 at the University’s Masonic Cancer Center. He retired from the University in 2012. In 1986, Dr. Connelly was inducted into the American College of Medical Informatics.