The Dr. Martin L. Block Award for Innovation & Excellence

Legacy of Superior Quality Patient Care Lives on in Annual Award

Martin L Block

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Some people remember the late Dr. Martin L. Block’s natural ability to engage and inspire audiences. Others recall his knack for simplifying keen industry insights for risk and quality professionals. But most people reminisce about how his passion to improve patient care influenced them.

In the spirit of the RISE mission to encourage continuous improvement in the health care system, The Dr. Martin L. Block Award for Innovation & Excellence is presented to an esteemed nominee each year at RISE National. This prestigious accolade acknowledges an individual’s effort to enhance the lives of America’s seniors through clinical leadership, policy vision and by superior example. Check out the 2021 award ceremony in the video below.


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A Dedicated Life and Career

Dr. Block’s focus on delivering quality patient care led him into health care administration early on in his career. As a doctor of 35 years, his dedication to improve medicine fueled his rise among the ranks of several major health plan management companies, including Blue Cross Blue Shield, Cigna, Aetna and United Healthcare. No matter his title – medical director, chief medical officer or vice president of clinical services – he stayed fixated on his mission to improve quality of care, and he worked long hours every day to develop and improve processes that benefit patients and healthcare professionals.

Dr. Block graduated from Northwestern University Medical School with a Doctor of Medicine degree. He completed his internal medicine residency in 1978 at Washington University in St. Louis, MO. He began his private practice in Riverside, CA, where he was active in the medical community. As a certified professional coder, Dr. Block gained critical insights into risk adjustment, quality and outcomes management. He eventually moved to Scottsdale, AZ, and went on to earn several awards for his dedication and passion.

A regular speaker at RISE National, Dr. Block passed away from brain cancer at the age of 62 on Oct. 28, 2013. In recognition of his contributions to innovations in risk adjustment, and to honor his life’s work, the RISE Association, Dr. Block was posthumously recognized with the first Martin L. Block Award in March 2014. His wife, Rita, and daughter, Abbey, accepted the award on his behalf.


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Past Award Winners
2021 Winner
Dr. Heather O'Toole

The 2021 award recipient is Dr. Heather O'Toole, Chief Medical Officer with Innovation Care Partners. In her nomination, Dr. O’Toole was touted as a strong contender for the Dr. Martin L. Block Award because of her long-standing dedication to excellence with her leadership spanning a broad range of colleagues including practicing physicians, care coordinators, and analysts. Dr. O’Toole has made a significant impact in the care of seniors in a relatively short time, working in the areas of palliative care, transitional care management, clinical work groups, and quality metrics in the ambulatory setting.

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2020 Winner
Frontline Workers

In 2020, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, RISE chose to forego the traditional criteria of the award and instead, present it in honor of the health care professionals who contracted and died from COVID-19. We believe Dr. Block, who died in October 2013 of brain cancer at the age of 62, would support our decision to memorialize these health care professionals who succumbed to the virus.

Previous Winners
  • 2019 - Mark Dambro, M.D.
  • 2018 - Dr. Manjusri Vennamaneni
  • 2017 - Michelle Lupoli, RN
  • 2016 - Dr. John Broderick
  • 2015 - Dr. James M Taylor
  • 2014 - Dr. Martin L Block