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A David Letterman Approach to the Informatics Year in Review

October 26, 2011
by David Raths
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National Library of Medicine turns 175, while EHR incentive monies start to flow






Each year at the Fall Symposium of the American Medical Informatics Association, Daniel Masys, M.D., affiliate professor of Biomedical and Health Informatics at the University of Washington School of Medicine, presents a review of the notable publications in the field of biomedical informatics that year. He also produces a David Letterman-style list of the top informatics events of the year based on an unscientific poll of some colleagues.

So without further ado, here are his selections for the Top 5 Events in Medical Informatics for 2011:

No. 5.: The world population reaching 7 billion people. (A U.N. report published in May predicts a global population of 9.3 billion by 2050.) This fact, Masys said, should help informaticists occasionally look beyond their particular projects to think about how their work might have a global impact.

No. 4.: The release of the PCAST report: The fact that at the presidential level there was a report that is very thoughtful in terms of its informatics approach and talking about metadata-tagged elements is somewhat amazing, Masys said. “A few years ago, a report like that would not have been written and would not have been asked for,” he said.

No. 3.: The 175-year anniversary of the National Library of Medicine.

No. 2.: Money began to flow in May of this year for the EHR incentive program, and that appears to be having a salutatory effect, Masys said.

And the No. 1 event in informatics in 2011? The American Board of Medical Specialties’ approval of clinical informatics as a subspecialty. This is the culmination of years of effort by AMIA and its members. The goal is to have the first board exam available in fall 2012, with the first certificates awarded early in 2013.

Do Healthcare Informatics readers have any events to add to the list?

Read more of Masys’ description of notable publications and their significance.



Thanks for stressing the value of the rest of Dr. Masys' talk. It is true that it was quite an impressive collection of research studies. Even when studies highlight examples where solutions aren't well designed or implemented, they are helping define the pathway to using technology to improve care.

Thanks David. I don't have an event to add to the list, but I do recommend the rest of Dr Masys's linked talk. As you know, he went through the domains of Clinical Decision Support, Telemedicine, and the practice of informatics. There he showed recent, strong evidence that HCIT improved health in about two dozen different ways. He also reminded us that our solutions need to be both well designed and well implemented and adopted. Very clarifying!

An example - we're all interested in HIE's for a variety of reasons.  Dr Masys included this reference, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21576534 , which recently surveyed just under 200 RHIOs.  They found that 67% of the relevant ones (see the linked abstract) were not financially viable.  Pretty good current data for CIOs to have when making recommendations to their CEOs and boards on where to invest in 2011 and 12.

That was one of many powerfully clear and authoritative cites that are available at the link you provided!  Thanks again David.