Signs of Hope Amid the Meaningful-Use Mania at HIMSS | Mark Hagland | Healthcare Blogs Skip to content Skip to navigation

Signs of Hope Amid the Meaningful-Use Mania at HIMSS

March 1, 2010
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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.

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