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Intelligent Healthcare Information Integration 3/3/10

March 3, 2010 News No Comments

While the Gettin’s Good

Here I sit, 6:10 AM, leaving the 2010 HIMSS conference, riding the shuttle toward Gate D25 here in ATL. (Typing that, I feel like Kenny Tarmac; respects to “The Bob & Tom Show.”) As I write this, I realize how freakin’ psychic I am, planning to leave just after one day of show. Not because of anything related to the HIMSS event; rather, because the last time Atlanta had a half an inch of snow, I was speaking to a friend there who was just about in a panic, as was pretty much the rest of lovely Atlanta, at the sight of frozen water. Wouldn’t you know, after arriving back at the hotel last night after a phenomenal HIStalk reception and excellent Eclipsys party with the still-spectacular B-52s, the local newscasters were abuzz with the news of, yup, snow.

Two to three inches was being forecast to hit starting just after my departing plane arrives safely away in Charlotte. Now, being from the frigid north, this piddly dusting doesn’t begin to worry me. However, if a half an inch frightens Atlantians into rolling up the sidewalks, I can’t imagine what enough to cover their shoe tops might do.

My post-HIMSS first-to-mind thought? As a mere grunt from the small town trenches, you might think the colossus into which HIMSS has morphed might be overwhelming. Would be, I suppose, if:

a) I hadn’t been watching all this HIT hubbub bubbling away for over a quarter century;

b) I didn’t know a bunch of really good people involved in this work who attend HIMSS who;

c) Keep introducing me to even more really good people.

Speaking of really good peeps, perhaps the most intriguing – and, perhaps, telling – comment I heard this year came from Pat Downing, one of those nice folks met via another nice folk. Pat, originally from Maryland, has now lived for over ten years in Thailand – Bangkok, to be specific. He’s the original brain behind what has since become Microsoft Amalga. Not being daily immersed in the U.S. HIT world, he notes how his infrequent visits allow a unique perspective upon what’s the haps here when he does make the rounds at HIMSS. This year, his take was disturbing, if not downright ominous.

To wit (paraphrased): I always find that walking the periphery of the HIMSS exhibit hall(s) gives me a view for the new, the innovators, always positioned around the outskirts of the show, those small guys who are bringing along the next big “pops.” This year, though, nothing popped.

Maybe it’s the scramble to address “meaningful use” (whatever that truly is.) Maybe it’s the ARRA funds which seem to have stalled – at least temporarily – the EHR purchase decisions of many potential adopters. Maybe we’re just out of idea men and women who can even pretend to wrap their minds around this ginormous, dysfunctional beast we call healthcare here in America.

But, maybe, just maybe, it’s the lull before the next great storm of disruption which will actually engage the masses of healthcare providers into actualizing the real horsepower of IT. Not technology for technology’s sake, nor technology for the sake of a carrot or the threat of a stick, but technology uptake based upon technology which excites and enthralls, technology which needs no incentives other than its own inherent value. Sort of like my palm Pre. (OK, sort of like the iPhone for the rest of you.)

The fun of the HIStalk reception still lingers, so I’m going with the latter, glass half full possibility.

Best of luck with the “blizzard,” y’all.

(On my way back to where I’m) From the trenches…

“The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds and the pessimist fears this is true” – James Branch Cabell


Dr. Gregg Alexander, a grunt in the trenches pediatrician, directs the “Pediatric Office of the Future” exhibit for the American Academy of Pediatrics and is a member of the Professional Advisory Council for ModernMedicine.com. More of his blather…er, writings…can be found at his blog, practice web site or directly from doc@madisonpediatric.com.

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