The first full day of the HIMSS 2009 conference is now officially over and featured a number of highlights for me. Things got off to a rousing start right off the bat for me. Yesterday, I wrote a post about what I was hoping to see at this year’s HIMSS conference and as early as breakfast, I found someone who shares my vision for HIT.
Dr. Douglas Winesett is a Pediatric GI specialist for the University Medical Group in Greenville, South Carolina and he was good enough to let me share his table at breakfast this morning. Dr. Winesett spends about half of his day seeing patients and the other half engaged in information systems to, “have a better understanding of what is happening in the IT world and be able to speak intelligently to our IT staff.” The challenges facing his organization are found throughout healthcare, but his approach was consistent with what I believe is the ultimate goal of HIT, to improve clinical operations and resulting in better outcomes.
We discussed scenarios where a virtual office visit would be appropriate and the types of issues that would be outside of the virtual world. We talked about the sum of human knowledge and how it continues to grow exponentially; to a point where it is not realistic for anyone to keep up with the changes in the industry…even doctors. Here is an opportunity for HIT to fill the gap, give the physician the tools to make informed decisions by providing all relevant data including medical history, outcomes measures, and the latest research, all in real time. A great start to the morning.
Next came my first session: MDs Who IM @ Work: Online Messaging Improves Physician-Patient Communication.
The session featured Dr. Richard Levine of Columbia University and Stephen Rosenthal of Montefiore Medical Center. Dr. Levine started by explaining how he recognized early on that “the patients were ahead of the us and we were behind” when it came to IT. They did not have an EMR and therefore did not have a culture that embraced technology. He said the biggest challenge and biggest barrier to change were the physicians. In 2005 they launched their system with the goal of connecting the physician-patient-community. Today, that system allows patients to request appointments, make virtual office visits, consult a doctor, contact the office, and exchange medical information with the hospital. The doctors who have embraced the system are becoming advocates due to the efficiencies gained. Dr. Levine reported the system allowed him to fill “5 or 6 prescriptions to 5 or 6 pharmacies in about 3 minutes.”
Next, came a similar story from Mr. Rosenthal and Montefiore. They had made a significant investment in the implementation of their ERM and wanted to find ways to leverage the information it contained. The created MyMontefiore system and use the tag line, “get on a health click.” To promote the utilization of their system, Montefiore utilizes a call center. Lessons learned from both implementations include;
- Physician champions are a must for successful adoption
- Outreach and education needed to help doctors understand advantages of the system
- ePrescribing is a true success and the “hook” to accelerate adoption
Next, I attended a session called: Making the Connection to Personalized Care: The Moffitt Cancer Survivorship Portal
Survivorship is the effort centered on returning a cancer patient into the community for ongoing care through the creation of a “passport” or documentation of treatment and care the patient received while under cancer treatment. The goal of the survivorship effort is to extend the continuity of care beyond a cancer center and provide for better patient outcomes. Moffitt has recognized the need for this effort and has a plan in place to build a patient portal to leverage their research and extend the reach of their cancer center into the community. One of the primary lessons learned through the planning and development is the need for quality control over the data that is being pulled into the system. As always, the output is only as good as the input.
While I was in the second session, the conference had an official welcome ceremony that involved a number of athletic demonstrations from Chicago’s 2016 Olympic bid process. Here is a video from that event.
The final educational session I attended was called: Keeping the Continuum Current: Bridging the Physician/Health System Communication Gap
This presentation came from Dr. William Jordan and Kim Hummel of the University of Alabama Health System. UAB was experiencing difficulties communicating with referring physicians and obtaining clinical information in a timely manner. The answer to their problems was to develop a physician portal that integrates with their EMR. The EMR development began in 1999 with transcribed documents and now includes encounter records, images, and orders. In 2007, a pilot was developed to provide web-based access to referring physicians of the EMR data.
To access the system, physicians apply for access and the UAB Physician Services Department collaborates with Information Security to issue an RSA token to grant EMR access. To promote awareness of the system, UAB utilizes two physician liaisons to visit community doctors, they exhibit at various medical conferences, and encourage their physicians to write personal letters to community physicians inviting them to use the system. The pilot began in 2007 and they hope to have over 1,000 physicians registered by September. To determine the success of the system, they took a group of physicians who used the system and measured their total referrals in the fiscal year before they were in the system then the referrals sent after they started using the system. For the group, they found and increase of 157 patients after implementation.
After the morning education sessions, it was time for the opening keynote address from Dennis Quaid. Quaid and his wife experienced a near tragic event with their twins when they were accidentally given 1,000 times the normal dose of Heparin twice. Quaid told his story to help reinforce the need for system improvements in healthcare to prevent these type of errors from occurring in the future. His story has resonated with many and is another reminder for us all to be striving for the day when errors like this are a thing of the past. Here is a video of the keynote address I shot:
After a long stroll through the massive vendor exhibit area, it was time for Meet the Bloggers in the Tech Lab. I was invited to present at this round table session with some true innovators in the blogging community and felt privileged to offer my experience to the group. It was fantastic to meet the other bloggers in person and put a face to a Tweet. For more on the session, go to www.himssconference.org/techlab/.
The day concluded with a conference reception, a long line at the shuttle bus, and some giant snowflakes on the way back to the hotel. The day was long, but well worth the effort.
Here’s looking forward to tomorrow!