Skip to content Skip to navigation

Signs of Hope Amid the Meaningful-Use Mania at HIMSS

March 1, 2010
by Mark Hagland
| Reprints

The atmosphere at HIMSS2010, unfolding this week at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, has so far been one of energy and anxiety. On the one hand, there is the prospect of a theoretical $19.1 billion in federal funding for clinical IT implementation, under the ARRA-HITECH stimulus legislation passed a year ago. On the other hand, the many strings attached to that funding are creating major concerns among providers, who are looking at the details in the proposed final rule released Dec. 30 and wondering whether they'll end up with mostly carrots or sticks when everything is said and done. Fundamentally, there is widespread agreement that what federal policymakers were intending when they passed ARRA-HITECH was well-intentioned and right-minded; but also that meeting the meaningful use requirements is turning out to be far more complex and challenging than anyone might have imagined. One large medical-group CIO I met with today noted that there is a specific provision embedded in the physician-related regulations that might actually, and paradoxically, end up requiring her and her colleagues to dismantle a unified EHR system that cost them over a year and more than $1 million to build. I absolutely sympathize with that CIO's concerns. In the end, I believe that the "feds" are going to have to build more flexibility, both in terms of timframes and in terms of specific elements around the meaningful use requirements (particularly in the data reporting arena) in order to bring the healthcare system to where it needs to be to fulfill the tremendous promise of this legislation. Meanwhile, even as HIMSS2010 is being strongly dominated by all things ARRA, there are moments available to everyone that offer some satisfaction without the the strange complexity of overtones. One of those such moments was shared by us at Healthcare Informatics when we presented crystal trophies to the first, second, and third place winners in our Innovator Awards program, at our Innovator Awards reception Monday evening. These wonderful folks from Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, and Chester County Hospital in Pennsylvania, all embody the can-do spirit of innovation that we at our magazine particularly love to celebrate (even as we continue to take as seriously as ever our responsibility to urge our industry forward as well). You can read about their innovations in our March issue. But for tonight, it was an honor and a pleasure to be able to recognize these industry leaders in IT-facilitated patient safety and quality, and organizational effectiveness, at our well-attended Innovator Awards reception at the W Hotel in downtown Atlanta; to share shop-talk and conviviality with colleagues at the end of a long conference day; and to look forward to the dawn of another new day of striving and purpose. There has never been a HIMSS conference that didn't encompass some nervous energy, and even anxiety. In recompense, this one is already displaying a full dose of industry directionality and purpose that are refreshing and invigorating, even as we all take on diverse, serious challenges going into the future.

Topics

Comments

Mark,
Well said. As a physician, I reflexively read your comment to raise the issue of an OVERDOSE, rather than a dose. That immediately prompts the question, is there an Antidote that we should be preparing. That, of course, is a checklist! Having just completed the first section of Atul Gawande's newest book, The Checklist Manifesto, I now know that the ARRA/HITECH MU/Certification checklist will have approximately 170 items on it, for any enterprise that delivers inpatient and outpatient care involving more than one service line.

To borrow a phrase from Gwen, Pssst, that's the vast majority of provider organizations.

Anyone else read Gawande's new book yet?

This has been the singularly best HIMSS ever. The clarity and agreement on functionality, along with same on interoperability, with financial incentives has never occurred before. As a result, there's a sense of sobriety, combined with a guarded optimism. This seems to exist similarly with vendors, care provider organizations, as well as physicians.

Many have said this before. This was an unpredicted confluence event for most of us.

Thanks for asking.

Joe Bormel,
Thanks much for your excellent comments. I haven't read the Gawande book yet, but would very much like to. I think he's hit upon something very important, even with his title, which is the best kind of titleunderstandable but somewhat unexpected. Meanwhile, I will be very interested in your perceptions of HIMSS as the show continues and then winds down.

Mark Hagland

Editor-In-Chief

Mark Hagland

@hci_markhagland

www.healthcare-informatics.com/blog/mark-hagland

Mark Hagland became Editor-in-Chief of Healthcare Informatics in January 2010. Prior to that, he...