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Meeting the Top Clinical IT Challenges

June 24, 2011
by Mark Hagland, Editor-in-Chief
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Highlights from the Healthcare Informatics Executive Summit
Mark Hagland
Mark Hagland

What happens when you bring together some of the smartest, most innovative CIOs, CMIOs, policy leaders, and industry experts in healthcare, and put them into the same room, to talk about the future? You get some of the most satisfying discussions possible in this current environment of rapid change and uncertainty. And that's just what happened in San Francisco, May 11-13, when we at HCI were fortunate enough to be able to gather together some of the most thoughtful healthcare IT leaders nationwide, for our first-ever Healthcare Informatics Executive Summit.

And what emerged were trenchant discussions of some of the trickiest, most complicated issues facing healthcare IT leaders nationwide right now. Among the numerous issues our panelists parsed out:

Some of the “hidden,” scarcely understood, data quality reporting requirements under meaningful use under the federal HITECH Act;

What kinds of reporting relationships and team structures ensure the operational success of clinical informaticist teams, across a variety of different organizational structures;

The immense complexities involved in laying the IT infrastructure foundation not only for meaningful use, but also for accountable care organization, patient-centered medical home, bundled payment, and other innovative payment arrangements and structures.

Among the many revelatory moments during the Summit were these:

Dan Martich, M.D., explaining how the success of his clinical informaticist teams at the UPMC health system rests on nearly two decades of multidisciplinary collaboration and teamwork;

Bill Spooner of Sharp HealthCare describing numerous years of planning and foundation-laying in terms of clinical IT infrastructure, as adequate preparation for moving forward rapidly now to meet the requirements of meaningful use;

Jane Metzger of the Emerging Practices division of CSC explaining in riveting detail the huge gaps between the ostensible quality data reporting requirements under meaningful use, and their actual complexity, as in the case of the “single” requirement around the documentation of VTE prophylaxis provision, and its multilayered reality, which involves eight different types of VTE prophylaxis, and implicates six or more clinical information systems in hospital organizations;

Industry-leading executive recruiters Linda Hodges and Tim Tolan talking about the dramatic changes taking place now regarding the growing gap between what hospital organizations are looking for in CIO and CMIO candidates, and what kinds of candidates the market is currently producing.

We were also very fortunate to have opening and closing keynote speakers of the exceptional stature of Farzad Mostashari, M.D., the national coordinator for health IT, and Carolyn Clancy, M.D., who has spent years enhancing the scope and range of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). Dr. Mostashari's opening keynote address was noteworthy for its passion and optimism, while his core theme-that the meaningful use process is working well, and that hospitals and physicians are proving the MU naysayers consistently wrong, was well-received by his audience. And Dr. Clancy's explication of the considerable-and, may I say, little understood-range of activities, outreach, and funding at AHRQ-also impressed her listeners, and provided attendees with valuable new information.

It was very satisfying to help lead the hosting of the first-ever HCI Executive Summit, and deeply gratifying to be able to share in its success with all the speakers, panelists, and participants at the Summit-the people who made the Summit a successful event.

And we at HCI look forward to developing future summits. Given the wonderful healthcare IT leaders who are good friends of HCI, we're very optimistic going forward. Please stay tuned!

Mark Hagland, Editor-in-Chief Healthcare Informatics 2011 July;28(7):6

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