I’m sitting in the airport in Houston waiting to board my flight to Chicago and started thinking more about this year’s HIMSS conference. When you add the challenges created by the current economic situation to the renewed focus on healthcare, the demands on HIMSS to deliver have never been greater. Professional development allotments and travel budgets are shrinking rapidly and when you do travel, it has to be worth the expense.
With these thoughts, one has to ask, what are you expecting to see at this year’s HIMSS Conference to justify going? For me, I’m hoping for a couple of things: one, evidence of a maturing of the IT industry in healthcare and two, ideas, success stories, and innovation.
Maturing of HIT
How could something that has been around for as many years as HIT need maturing? While HIT has been an important part of the healthcare system, it still remains somewhat of an outsider when it comes to clinical operations. Too many organizations have IT departments that function outside of the core business of healthcare, the treating of patients. Yes, you need IT to support business transactions, but the real magic in HIT will be realized when lives are saved and costs are reduced. In other words, when HIT has helped to improve the quality of care offered to patients.
What does that look like when HIT is involved in clinical care? You will see integrated EMRs supporting and guiding clinical decisions, data exchanges improving the entire continuity family to physician, cheaper and more accessible access to quality care, elevated awareness and emphasis on wellness, and a true reduction in the cost of care.
For me, it’s time for HIT to show its value. Too often we see the promise of IT improvements and ROI justifications fall short due to implementation, scheduling, planning, or project management problems. We can all sight projects that started with the best of intentions that fell flat at some point along the line. It’s time to deliver projects that make a difference and actually deliver reduced cost and improved care. The successful project should not be the exception it should be the rule. It’s time for HIT to grow-up.
Ideas, Success Stores and Innovation
I know there are many others out there in the HIT world who share my opinion on the maturity issue and they have been working hard on the effective and successful projects I’m describing. What I’m hoping to hear is a growing number of those projects coming to light. I want to see organizations that are pushing the envelope and challenging the old ways of doing business. I want to see those who are using innovative technologies to penetrate bureaucracies and extend the reach of health care to patients around the globe. I want to see the promise of HIT being realized in ways I had not even considered.
Hearing these examples will help me add to a growing peer group of those who are committed to the idea of innovation and improvements through HIT and who are delivering on that promise. Growing a network of peers is the ultimate reason to attend a conference like HIMSS; it attacks those who think alike and gives us all opportunities to share stories, generate ideas, and lean on each other from time to time. While I suspect I will meet many peers in person, thanks to Twitter, blogs, Facebook and other technologies, I will meet many more virtually. In the end, a peer group is a great thing to have.
In about fifteen minutes, we will start our decent into Chicago. The money has been spent, the time has been taken, and now it’s time to deliver.
For those interested, I will be live tweeting during HIMSS via Twitter (@timjedwards) and posting daily conference wrap-ups on this blog each night. If you are going to be at HIMSS, send me a tweet and let me know how things are going. I’m also going to be presenting at the “Meet the Bloggers” roundtable session on Sunday. Stop by and say hi!