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LIVE FROM HIMSS16: Attendance Slightly Lower, But Still at Near-Record Levels; HIMSS Leadership Survey Plumbs Issues Around Clinical Informatics, IT Compensation

March 1, 2016
by Mark Hagland
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HIMSS leaders presented attendance figures and the results of the HIMSS Leadership Survey to the media on Tuesday morning at HIMSS16
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Attendance at HIMSS16 is down slightly from attendance at HIMSS15, but it remains at a near-record high. That was one of the first elements brought forward at the media briefing given to members of the press at the Sands Expo Convention Center in Las Vegas on the Tuesday morning of HIMSS. As of Monday night, HIMSS officials reported, HIMSS16 had logged 40,510 attendees (HIMSS15 final attendance figure was 43,043). Carla Smith, senior vice president of HIMSS (the Chicago-based Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society), presented the results of the annual HIMSS Leadership Survey, along with a panel of healthcare IT leaders, and also presented attendance figures Tuesday morning. She also noted that HIMSS16 had more than 1,200 exhibitors, 300 of them new, with a higher percentage of professional attendees (those unrelated to exhibitor organizations) than ever before, and double-digit increases in all c-suite professional titles.

With regard to the HIMSS Leadership Survey, Smith walked members of the press through a variety of numbers. According to the survey, the following were the top priorities stated by respondents: sustaining financial viability (86.9 percent); improving patient satisfaction: (84.4 percent) improving patient care and/or outcomes (83.0 percent); improving operational efficiency (72.7 percent); improving physician satisfaction (72.3 percent). Those results contrast with the results from a year ago (as released by the HIMSS organization and reported online by Healthcare Informatics), which were as follows: improving patient care satisfaction, and improving patient care/quality of care (87 percent); sustaining financial viability (85 percent); improving care coordination (76 percent); improving operational efficiency (72 percent); improving physician satisfaction (68 percent); achieving meaningful use (68 percent); and increasing market share (66 percent).

With regard to the financial issues pressing in on CIOs and other healthcare IT leaders, Don Reichert, vice president and CIO at The MetroHealth System in Cleveland, told Healthcare Informatics that the focus is understandable. “You need to increase your operating margin, so if you’re at 3 percent, how do you get to 5? Everyone’s focused on patient volume right now,” he told HCI. “That’s one side of the equation. The other side is managing your expenses. I’m on the service side of the organization. And how can I consolidate systems, and cut down on the duplication of effort? If clinicians have to go to five different screens and three different systems to access information, that is a problem.

On another front, considerable attention was paid by Smith and the members of the panel of healthcare IT leaders to findings from a new section of the survey regarding the presence of clinical IT leaders. Smith noted that only 36 percent of survey respondents said in 2012 that their organization had a CMIO; in 2016, that percentage has increased to 53 percent. And of those that do have a CMIO, 59 of respondents reported that the CMIO is on the executive team of their organization. Meanwhile, in 2012, only 9 percent of organizations had a CNIO; now in 2016, that percentage had increased to 18 percent. Interestingly, of those with a CNIO, 71 percent reported that their CNIO was on their organization’s executive team.

Among the senior healthcare IT leaders on the panel, Sharon Kirby, M.S., R.N.-B.C., vice president and chief nursing information officer at Denver’s Centura Health, told members of the press, “I’ve been in this position since 2012. We’ve implemented CPOE in all our facilities, and have implemented barcode meds administration, were subsequently awarded Stage 7 in all our hospitals. We very much believe in a paperless environment within our organization, and we’ve used that to leverage where we are today as far as winning our Davies Award this past year. I can say that from being the director of clinical informatics and then CNIO, my presence has had a profound impact on the way our organization operates. Obviously, when you move into a chief level and are in the c suite, things are looked at very differently,” she said. What’s more, she said, “People didn’t initially understand what a CNIO was, and some still don’t’ today—there was a lot of skepticism, and I had to define the role. My dyad partner is my CMIO, who is also a female, and we also work very closely together with our organization’s CIO. And that partnership between IT and clinical informatics has helped so much” to move the Centura organization forward on key organizational objectives.

Later, in response to a question from HCI about what CIOs should understand about the value of CNIOs, Kirby said, “That we can create that link and bring adoption. CIOs can try to implement all the health IT they want, but if you don’t have adoption, you have to have someone who can advocate to your end users, and someone who understands the workflow of end users. It won’t be safe and they won’t use it if it’s not integrated with workflow. My CMIO and I work very closely together. When we first started, we were in our won worlds, and she said something fascinating to me; she said, I never understood how much nurses know what doctors do but how little doctors know about what nurses do. Nurses understand informatics in pharmacy and lab.”