Signs of the field's potential along with self-imposed limits
I spent most of the past week on my annual assessment of the progress that the field of health information technology is making toward culling the benefits offered by computers and Internet connectivity: instant access to data anywhere; a leveling of access for different patient populations and for health care providers big and small; the use of analytics to direct resources and attack problems better.
The big HIMSS conference in New Orleans, a crossroads for doctors, technologists, and policy-makers, provided a one-stop check-in. I already covered several aspects of the conference in two earlier postings, Singin’ the Blues: visions deferred at HIMSS health IT conference and Slow & Steady: looking toward a better health IT future at HIMSS. Here I’ll summarize a couple more trends in data exchange and basic functions of health IT systems.
Participatory medicine and hospital technologies take steps forward
After my funereal disparagement yesterday of the opening of the HIMSS health care conference in New Orleans, I decided to pick up the beat today and talk about some of the people and ideas I encountered with promise for the future.
Nobody Knows The Way I Feel This Morning: patient engagement and all that jazz
Yesterday I spoke of the gap between the reform-minded leaders of health care and the institutions that mostly take care of us. The latest battleground between these peaks of care is the movement variously called patient engagement, patient empowerment, and participatory medicine.
There’s nothing new about this concept. Desperate patients have been self-educating, negotiating with health care systems, and creating advocacy groups forever. On the self-help front, Prevention Magazine began (according to Wikipedia) in 1950. The Society for Participatory Medicine was founded in the mid 2000’s, around the time e-Patient Dave made the concept into a meme through his brave online sharing of his care.
HIMSS has thrown its support behind the Society for Participatory Medicine, which had a lunchtime meeting at the conference yesterday to discuss increasing membership and grass-roots promotional activities. (Folks, consider yourselves promoted.) HIMSS also invited teh popular author Eric Topol to deliver yesterday’s keynote. And the first statement offered by Topol was praise for Regina Holliday, a consumately self-educated patient advocate and creator of the famous artwork and painted jackets in the Walking Gallery. Read more…
The main concerns of health reformers don't rise to the top of health provider agendas
HIMSS, the leading health IT conference in the US, drew over 32,000 people to New Orleans this year (with another thousand or two expected to register by the end of the conference). High as this turn-out sounds, it represents a drop from last year, which exceeded 37,000.
Maybe HIMSS could do even better by adding a “Clueless” or “I don’t believe in health IT” track. Talking to the people who promote health IT issues to the doctors and their managers, I sense a gap–and to some extent, a spectrum of belief–in the recognition of the value of gathering and analyzing data about health care.
I do believe that American health care providers have evolved to accept computerization, if only in response to the HITECH act (passed with bipartisan Congressional support) and the law’s requirements for Meaningful Use of eleectronic records. Privately, many providers may still feel that electronic health records are a bad dream that will go away. This article presents a radically different view. I think electronic health records are a bad dream that will go on for many years to come. I’ll expand on this angle when blogging from HIMSS this year.
HIMSS has promoted good causes, but only recently has it addressed cost, interoperability, and open source issues that can allow health IT to break out of the elite of institutions large or sophisticated enough to adopt the right practices.