Douglas B. Fridsma, M.D., Ph.D., the president and CEO of the Bethesda, M.D.-based American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA), visited Healthcare Informatics Editor-in-Chief Mark Hagland on Tuesday at the Healthcare Informatics booth on the exhibit floor at HIMSS17, the annual conference of the Chicago-based Healthcare Information & Management Systems Society, being held this week at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando Florida. Dr. Fridsma said he was glad to share his thoughts on the HIMSS Conference with Hagland. Below are the comments he made to Hagland.
What’s your impression of the exhibit floor and of the discussions you’ve been having, at this HIMSS Conference?
Every year that I’m here, you can see that they’re making progress. One of the things, and we knew that was going to be coming, is that more and more of this data, as it becomes electronic, security becomes more important, in terms of protecting the patient. It’s also clear to me that, for us to continue to drive this innovation, making sure that the data is available to patients to use in interesting and innovative ways, will be important. And so discussions about interoperability, discussions about other ways of sharing information, are increasingly important, because HIMSS, and the innovation we see on the exhibition floor, is really driven by the ability of different groups to have access to that information. And absent that, I think that if the data becomes a trickle, then the innovation will be stymied by that.
Douglas B. Fridsma, M.D.
Are you hopeful for the future, even given all these complexities?
Oh yes, I’m always hopeful! We’ve made remarkable progress, we still have challenges; but if there weren’t challenges to put creative minds to work, people would sort of just move on and look at other areas. And so the fact that people are here, that they’re engaged, means that we have unique problems that people are trying to put their best minds to, to solve.
Are there any conversations from the past few days that have been particularly noteworthy or even surprising for you, that have stuck in your mind?
Well, I think there’s going to be a tension. As you start to see things like the Internet of Things, and you start to see AI [artificial intelligence] techniques, which really require access to lots and lots of information, I think that our need to secure things and make sure that patients’ information is protected and their privacy maintained, we’re going to get to a point where we’re going to have to resolve those things. My own feeling is that it’s the patient who’s going to have to decide; and they’l be able to individually customize their environment, to the degree of sharing and openness they’re comfortable with.
Would you be able to name any single biggest buzz word, term, or thought that you’ve been coming across these past few days?
Yes, I think it would have to be Blockchain. That’s the biggest one that I’m hearing. While there are certainly some things for which Blockchain could prove to be very useful in healthcare. But I have to say that I think it remains to be seen how it can be integrated into the transactions, and their frequency, in the healthcare system.
Do you think that Blockchain is overhyped right now?
I think it’s very early in its hype cycle, and there are a lot of challenges around it. I’m intrigued by it. It’s fascinating to think about it, but we’ll have to see how it all plays out.
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