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Health IT Pulse

Mar 5 2012   1:45PM GMT

How HIMSS 2012 conference will shape the rest of the year

Posted by: Beastwood
health information exchange, HIMSS 2012, ICD-10 implementation, ipad ehr, meaningful use stage 2, patient engagement

Recovering from an industry event as large as the Health Information and Management Systems Society’s HIMSS 2012 conference usually takes a couple weeks. Between walking all over the place, organizing our very first Tweet ‘n Meet event and (of course) covering the event, we were certainly busy. Yours truly even got into the act by covering the HIMSS 2012 conference keynote by Twitter Inc. co-founder Biz Stone, appropriately enough, by monitoring Twitter from my desk.

Now that everyone has settled back into the usual, not-traipsing-around-Las-Vegas routine, let’s look back at what happened at the HIMSS 2012 conference and figure out what it will mean for the rest of the year.

  • Meaningful use stage 2 arrived, albeit later than everyone expected and amid confusion among attendees who’d hoped the conference would address the proposed meaningful use stage 2 criteria in great detail. If it’s any consolation, there weren’t too many surprises in the proposed rule — the added emphasis on patient engagement, health information exchange and interoperability has all been discussed before.
  • The wait for stage 2 seems to have upstaged the proposed ICD-10 delay. Aside from repeated reminders to stay the course and continue to take ICD-10 implementation seriously, not much was said — and honestly, what more can be said until a decision is made?
  • Health care CIOs aren’t worried about infrastructure, because they just expect it to work, but they need a good health IT staff, according to the latest HIMSS leadership survey. For the first time, “staff” replaced “money” as the top concern of health care CIOs. While that’s not surprising, it does add empirical evidence to something we’d been hearing anecdotally, and it will be interesting to see if organizations are able to meet the demand for additional staff.
  • Even before the buzz about the Apple Inc. iPad 3 release, the device was everywhere at the HIMSS 2012 conference, whether in attendee’s hands or being given away at what seemed like every booth at the expo hall. Since the device is popular with physicians, too — especially as a familiar way to access electronic health record (EHR) systems — it makes sense for CIOs to pursue robust iPad EHR security strategies as the year progresses. The key message from the HIMSS 2012 conference — since it’s a matter of HIPAA compliance, take iPad EHR security seriously and don’t expect end users to do the work that IT departments should be doing.
  • Finally, health information exchange — as a noun and a verb — simply cannot be ignored. In addition to meaningful use, it will play an important part in the accountable care organization and the patient-centered medical home, both of which succeed only when all participants have access to pertinent patient data. It will also impact public health agencies, who need HIE connectivity to maintain accurate immunization registries, syndromic surveillance and population reports and who struggle mightily to pay for that connectivity.

The surface-level lesson from the HIMSS 2012 conference is that it will be a busy year for anyone who pays attention to health IT. Looking deeper, the main message is one of collaboration, both within and among health care organizations, government entities, patients, payers and vendors.

It’s a tall order, if not a pipe dream — and that’s exactly the point. A broken system cannot fix itself, and a broken system that affects so many cannot be fixed without the input of any and all entities responsible for causing the break in the first place. Getting together to discuss what health IT needs to succeed isn’t always easy, but it sure beats ignoring the problem and hoping it somehow corrects itself.

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ChrisFox  |   Mar 6, 2012  12:32 PM (GMT)

Nice concise summary of what was an intense week. The comment at the end was particularly poignant. In addition to being able to discuss the needs of health IT, I would add that it is vitally important to encourage cooperation between IT, Finance, Nursing and HR. Open communication and shared vision around strategic objectives is often the key to success for us.

I noted three observations from HIMSS12 from the perspective of labor management:


Beastwood  |   Mar 6, 2012  5:33 PM (GMT)

Thanks for sharing, Chris. Labor management will be important as health care organizations in general, and IT departments in particular, continue to grow over the next decade.


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