Healthcare Informatics exclusive: HIMSS’ Steve Lieber on Surveys and Strategy
By Mark Hagland
H. Stephen Lieber, the president of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), spoke exclusively with Healthcare Informatics Monday afternoon on issues around industry surveys and the HIMSS organization’s long-term strategy. Is HIMSS tracking trends correctly in healthcare IT, and strategizing for continued leadership in the industry?
Just hours after the release to the media of the HIMSS Leadership Survey on Monday morning raised eyebrows among members of the press, Lieber, who has been president of HIMSS for eight years (he joined the organization as its CEO just before the 2000 HIMSS Conference in Dallas), told Healthcare Informatics that the basic premise of the Leadership Survey will inevitably lead to partly unexplainable shifts in responses to key questions in the annual survey, the most respected and most often quoted survey of health care IT executives in the U.S.
“The problem with all of these surveys,” Lieber noted of most healthcare industry polls, “is that we’re all doing it the same way—we’re surveying a voluntary population every year, and in addition, we change the methodology slightly every year to accommodate changes in awareness and concerns in the industry.” As a result, he cautioned, it can be difficult to make very tight comparisons between survey results from year to year. Instead, he said, such responses should not be viewed in the same way as if the same individuals were responding each time. Thus, he said, it was more important to keep in mind that, for example, the top three business concerns cited last year by survey respondents remain the top three business concerns this year (improving care quality, managing Medicare cutbacks, and improving patient/customer satisfaction). What’s more, the broadest trends in priorities and applications continue to hold true over time.
More broadly, Lieber spoke to us about the HIMSS organization’s broad strategic direction. Generally speaking, he said, HIMSS will continue to offer the combination of education, vendor-shopping, and networking opportunities that has drawn attendees to the conference and IT professionals to membership in the organization, in the past. At the same time, he said, HIMSS will continue to expand outward, broadening its programs to reach out more fully to clinicians, including, over time, physicians in smaller private practices, as well as to such audiences as ambulatory surgery center managers and medical device manufacturers.
Lieber also said that the early success of its international meetings means that such meetings will continue, both in Europe (where conferences in Geneva and Vienna will be followed by one in Copenhagen later this year) and in Asia (where a Singapore conference will be followed by conference in Hong Kong this fall).
Meanwhile, back in the U.S., Lieber confirmed exclusively to Healthcare Informatics that challenges with exhibit floor space and breakout meeting room capacity have made it less certain that Las Vegas will be added to the stable of previously identified cities among which the massive HIMSS Conference will rotate in the future. Orlando, Atlanta, and Chicago are confirmed. And depending on how some construction work goes in the next several months, Las Vegas may or may not join the club. Readers should stay tuned to Healthcare Informatics coverage to find out how things shape up in this regard.