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“Houston, We Have Solutions”

November 17, 2014
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The 1995 movie “Apollo 13” made famous the (slightly misquoted) quote, “Houston, we have a problem.” How about coming to Houston for discussions that will offer (healthcare strategic) solutions, instead?

The 1995 movie “Apollo 13” made famous the quote, “Houston, we have a problem”—a reference that has now seeped into common parlance in American culture. As it turns out, a quick Wikipedia search for that quote finds that it was actually a misquote: what was said was this: “Houston, we’ve had a problem here.”

The sentence was uttered in April 1970 by astronaut James A. Lovell, who was communicating to his colleagues at NASA in Houston the news that multiple system failures were putting not only the mission, but also the astronauts themselves, in fatal danger. Fortunately, as we all know, despite the crisis of exploding and leaking oxygen tanks and an incredibly perilous mission abort, the Apollo 13 astronauts made it back to Earth safely, and to a heroes’ welcome.

We’re expecting a far less dramatic, though hopefully very helpful, dual event in Houston early next month, replete with solutions for healthcare and healthcare IT leaders to some of the biggest challenges facing our healthcare system right now. The Health IT Summit in Houston will be held December 10-11 at the Royal Sonesta Houston Galleria, sponsored by our sister organization, the Institute for Health Technology Transformation, or iHT2 (which since December 2013 has been in partnership with HCI through our parent organization, the Vendome Group, LLC). And it will be preceded on December 9 by the Health Information Executive’s Guide to Cyber Security, at the same location. That one-day event on Dec. 9 will be co-sponsored by iHT2 and CHIME, the Ann Arbor, Mich.-based College of Health Information Management Executives.

At the Health Information Executive’s Guide to Cyber Security, attendees will hear the latest on cyber-security threats and issues from the industry’s uber-guru on the subject, Mac McMillan, in his opening keynote address, “What Is Cyber Security and Why Is It Crucial to Your Organization?” I have interviewed Mac numerous times and heard him speak numerous times, and every single time, he astonishes me with the breadth of his knowledge and the urgency of his message for the industry. I also can’t wait to hear from David Mendenhall, CTO at JPS Health Network, Gary Barnes, CIO of Medical Center Health System, and Brad Dummer, security officer at Medical Center Hospital, on the ultra-timely topic, “Creating an Effective Cyber Security Strategy: Key Attributes for Success, Challenges, and Critical Success Factors.” I myself will be honored to moderate a panel, “Healthcare Cyber Security Solutions: Concepts and Trends,” with Gary Barnes, as well as Aaron Miri, CTO at Children’s Health, Less Stoltenberg, executive director of information security at MD Anderson Cancer Center, and David Finn, health information technology officer at Symantec.

The following two days at the Health IT Summit in Houston will be packed with keynote addresses, case study presentations, and important panel discussions. Among the important topics to be addressed: “Data Security in the Cloud: Leveraging Accessibility While Managing Risk”; “Evolving Models for Data Exchange: Driving Value and Innovation”; “mHealth and TeleHealth: Reducing Readmissions through Innovative Care Models”; and “Thriving in a New Reimbursement Model: Why Data Is Key to Population health Management.”

There are so many speakers and panelists I’m looking forward to hearing from that I’m afraid that mentioning any of them might slight others. But I’ll just say that among those whose experiences I’m particularly eager to learn from are Nora Belcher, executive director, Texas e-Health Alliance; Theresa Meadows, R.N., senior vice president and CIO, Cook Children’s Health Care System; Phil Beckett, Ph.D., CTO and acting CEO, Greater Houston Healthconnect; Tony Gilman, CEO, Texas Health Services Authority; and Luis Saldana, M.D., CMIO, Texas Health Resources.

What’s clear is that those gathering in Houston will be able to participate in robust interactions around some of the most pressing issues facing the U.S. healthcare system right now, and should be able to come away with new perspectives and enhanced knowledge on how to proceed in their own organizations. In other words, “Houston, we’ve got solutions.”

I truly believe that now is perhaps the most exciting time in the history of the U.S. healthcare system. The challenges are as great and as daunting as they’ve ever been; at the same time, pioneering organizations are showing the way towards the new healthcare—a healthcare system of improved patient safety and care quality, greater efficiency and cost-effectiveness, an enhanced patient, family, and community experience, and new steps towards truly accountable care and authentic population health management. And when healthcare leaders gather in settings such as this dual conference event, the dialogue becomes vigorous and stimulating. I’m excited to participate in these dual events, and can’t wait to hear what the industry luminaries—and the energized audience participants—have to say there.