Amid the crazed swirl of the HIMSS Conference, it’s sometimes the most small-scale encounters that really stand out. One for me this year was meeting Linda Lockwood, R.N., a Maryland-based consultant with the Dallas-based CTG Health Solutions.
My meeting with Linda was scheduled through a long-time colleague in the healthcare PR sphere, who assured me that it would be great to meet this CTG consultant. And it was. What was particularly delightful was to find someone who shared virtually the exact same passions for helping healthcare executives and clinicians think through how to leverage clinical and other data to create change. As many people as attend the HIMSS Conference (over 35,000 this year, a new record), it is inevitable, of course, that attendees have different perspectives on their work, and different sets of goals.
But the more I spoke with Linda, the more I realized that we were “clinical transformation soulmates,” if such a fanciful term could be applied appropriately to such encounters. For one thing, I was amazed to learn that Linda was part of a team that, through research and data-driven analysis, came up with the monitoring of hemoglobin a1c as a best practice for the management of diabetes in patients. Linda shared with me the story of how she had been working on a federally granted project with the Harvard School of Public Health and what was then HCFA (the Health Care Financing Administration; today’s Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services, or CMS), and, through multidisciplinary, team-based research and analysis, the decision was made to create and execute a study, one that would eventually set the hemoglobin a1c monitoring process as a standard of best practice in diabetes management.
Linda has done many things since then, across numerous sectors in healthcare, but what has united her disparate involvements has been a passion for spreading the gospel of data-driven, evidence-based clinical transformation. As I shared with her in our meeting, that is one of my greatest passions too, as editor-in-chief of Healthcare Informatics. We are coming out of very different sets of experiences, skill sets, and professional backgrounds, but whether it is as a consultant, as she is, or as a member of the trade press as I am, each of us in healthcare can do something to advance tremendously important causes like clinical transformation. My own contributions will be humble compared to those of on-the-ground researchers and innovators in care delivery, of course. But shining a light on bold innovations and experiments is exactly what members of the trade press can do.
And indeed, as I shared with Linda, on Monday evening, I had the privilege of hosting the Healthcare Informatics Innovator Awards reception, at which we celebrated several teams of healthcare leaders who have been busy creating initiatives that are showing the way to the new healthcare—the emergent U.S. healthcare system that will bring our country greater patient safety, improved care quality, enhanced efficiency and cost-effectiveness, greater accountability, transparency, connectivity, and responsiveness to patients, families, and communities.
Our sponsorship of the Innovator Awards program is one of the most delightful experiences of the year for me, and in particular, the reception at which we celebrate inspiring innovations at the annual HIMSS Conference. And when I meet colleagues like Linda, it only underscores for me how very, very many great people are out there in the U.S. healthcare system, working in every type of capacity—as clinicians, informaticists, executives and administrators, payer leaders, consultants, vendors, and yes, press—to make things happen and help to create the new healthcare. This year, the moments of affinity at the HIMSS Conference were many, for me. I can’t wait to meet more people like Linda at HIMSS15 and throughout the coming year.