Tribute for Gretchen Murphy

January 2, 2024

WSHIMA Tribute for Gretchen (Frederick) Murphy, M.Ed., RHIA, FAHIMA

It is with sadness we share the news that our colleague, Gretchen Murphy, passed away on December 15, 2023.

Gretchen was a trailblazer in health informatics and health information, as both a practitioner and an educator. Many know her as the Director of the Health Informatics and Health Information (HIHIM) Programs at the University of Washington (UW) Seattle. Her evolving vision for health information systems and electronic health records truly describes her professional career and her focus on health information education.

Gretchen graduated from the Medical Record Program at Seattle University in 1964. She began her professional career at Providence Hospital in the Cancer Registry. For the next six decades, Gretchen collaborated with clinicians and health information colleagues at local and national levels on the development of informatics standards to advance healthcare interoperability. She is well-known for her direction of projects for clinical and administrative information systems and enterprise health records at Group Health Cooperative (now Kaiser Permanente Washington).

Gretchen actively participated in the professional community through AHIMA, WSHIMA, HIMSS, and AMIA. Gretchen was an AHIMA Distinguished Member and WSHIMA Past President. She served as the Board Chair of CHITA (Connecting Communities Improving Health) in Seattle and Chair of the Health Information Exchange Community Oversight Board of Directors through the Foundation for Health Care Quality in Washington State. Gretchen frequently presented on health informatics at professional conferences. She co-authored Electronic Health Records: Changing the Vision, in 1999, one of the earliest textbooks on the subject, as well as several other titles on health information.

Gretchen’s commitment to educating future leaders in the profession was immeasurable. Gretchen led successful national accreditations of the UW HIHIM bachelor and master’s degree programs. Colleagues and students sought her guidance and expertise on their career path and on “best practices” in health information. Graduates of both Seattle University and the University of Washington benefitted from her mentorship.

Perhaps without realizing it, her work lives on in her students and colleagues. Her determination, resourcefulness, kindness, patience, and sense of humor are qualities to be emulated. Gretchen never withdrew from a challenge, in fact, she seemed to welcome them!

A memorial service will be held on Friday, January 5, 2024, at 11 am at the Shoreline Unitarian Universalist Church, 14724 1st Ave NE, Shoreline, WA 98155. Her children, Andrew, Nick, and Katie, extend the invitation to attend the service and to contribute to the Gretchen C. Murphy HIHIM Student Support Fund, which provides financial support to undergraduate and graduate students.