June 9, 2017

Edmund (Ted) Van Brunt, pioneer of electronic health records, dies at age 91

Throughout his career, Dr. Van Brunt applied computers and databases in medicine and health research, supporting new investigators and new areas of research.

"Dr. Edmund Van Brunt, resident in Medicine at our Geary St. Hospital (center) answers questions of Jack Katzow, intern, and Mrs. Emily McEvoy, RN, about modern resuscitation equipment which all professional staff are instructed how to use in emergencies involving cardiac arrest." Reporter, May 1961.

Edmund (Ted) Van Brunt, MD, former director of the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research and a pioneer in the use of electronic health records in medical science, died at his home in Berkeley on May 19, 2017.  A native of Oakland and longtime Berkeley resident, Dr. Van Brunt’s medical career with Kaiser Permanente spanned 36 years, from his appointment as a staff physician in the Department of Internal Medicine in Kaiser Permanente’s San Francisco medical center in 1964 to his retirement as director of the Division of Research in 1991.

Dr. Van Brunt

"Dr. Van Brunt demonstrates proper utilization of cardiac treatment equipment." Planning for Health newsletter Summer 1967.

“Dr. Van Brunt’s devotion to research helped build our Division into a nationally respected group,” said Tracy Lieu, MD, MPH, current director of the Division of Research. “He was revered for his steadiness and breadth of vision.”

In 1966, Dr. Morris Collen appointed Dr. Van Brunt as project chief of the Medical Data System in Oakland and San Francisco, a computer-based patient medical record system with a database designed to support both patient care and health care delivery research. The Medical Data System project developed a multifacility, computer-based system to support the medical data requirements of one million health plan members, 1,000 physicians, and numerous professional and paramedical support staff. The system consisted of two IBM mainframe computers, and medical data from Kaiser Permanente’s multiphasic physical exam was recorded on punch cards for processing.