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DOCtalk by Dr. Gregg 4/27/12

April 27, 2012 News No Comments

Odd and Ends

There’s an odd thing I noticed recently while in Chicago for dual meetings of the exec/advisory boards of the Council on Clinical Information Technology (COCIT) and Child Health Informatics Center (CHIC) at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). In each, the conversations have taken a noticeable — and I think encouraging — turn.

As most of you are aware, HIT conversations over the past couple of years have revolved around Meaningful Use, Meaningful Use, Meaningful Use, and more Meaningful Use. On the vendors’ side, conversations – and entire developmental timetables – have been almost exclusively redirected to meeting and matching MU criteria. For users, though they’re still looking for functionality, MU standards and MU hoops through which to jump have also substantially overtaken most all IT-related tête-à-têtes.

So, too, have recent COCIT and CHIC chats been mostly MU-oriented. However, over the past couple of sunny days here in the City of the Big Shoulders, I’ve noticed a rather encouraging change. Amongst people who are exclusively focused upon HIT as relates to pediatrics, MU has sort of moved into the backseat, and in a very good way.

A few highlights of conversational topics may help to illustrate this point:

  • During one meeting, we had a presentation from a member who had gone to Japan to assess emergency responses to the recent horrific earthquake / tsunami / nuclear meltdown disaster trifecta. Japan’s amazing response to this terrible tragedy, including the impact of information management in such an event, was compared to the dismal and disappointing responses to the recent hurricane and flooding of New Orleans. How HIT impacts, or how HIT is impacted by, such enormous catastrophes can be very challenging considerations.
  • Another member was intimately involved with emergency services to the recent earthquake in Haiti. He described the heart-wrenching story of a student trapped for a week who survived by drinking the dripping blood from her fellow students whose dead bodies lay above her in the wreckage. Heartbreakingly, or perhaps mercifully, she later to died due to complications from her nightmare. (Though I doubt HIT may have helped this poor girl, the Haitian disaster has tremendous lessons to teach about dealing with less-developed countries who suffer such calamities.)
  • A third physician spoke of the political suicide he experienced by standing up to his institution’s decision to implement a system which he felt was inappropriate for their needs. He described being taken out into the hall by their CMIO and scolded for not getting on the implementation bus. Not one who is known for sharing such inner personal emotions often, his description of the institutional loneliness he has experienced over the past two years as he held to his opinion for the inappropriateness of this system was moving. (He did note a slight indication of vindication recently — others are starting to understand his concerns as the implementation process has proceeded.)
  • In reevaluating the priorities for both groups’ efforts, instead of just talking about how we help AAP members to adopt/implement HIT and meet Meaningful Use criteria, we were instead discussing ways to provide AAP expert content via web services to both members and vendors, how to identify and help members use their digital talents to assist their colleagues, and how to expand upon the wonderful, expanded support we’ve been receiving from the upper AAP echelon to promote all things Peds HIT.

In other words, we were talking about providing value: value to the children and families we serve; value to our colleagues; value to HIT vendors looking to resource our expertise, and; value to ourselves. Barely a mention of MU during days of non-stop meetings and post-meeting dinner chats. Refreshing, I must say, though that’s not at all to say that I (or we) are against MU. It’s just nice to get back to discussing and working on all those things toward which MU is designed to help us move.

As to the “Ends” part of this post’s title, this weekend marked the end of service for some very wonderful people. After serving between six and nine years, Drs. Jeannie Marcus, George Kim, Michael Leu, and Alan Zuckerman have come to the end of their COCIT Executive Committee term limits. Though some fresh blood is always good, the leadership and value each of them provided is undeniable. (Knowing them, I’m betting their contributions will continue well past their “title” time.) Thanks, guys.

There’s another of the “Ends” I will especially miss. After eight years, Jennifer Mansour will be leaving the AAP and, from a completely “how does this impact me” mindset, will no longer be my cohort in crime with the Pediatric Office of the Future (POF) exhibit. Jen has done so much more than that in her role as Health Information Technology Initiatives Manager, but her deep understanding of the world of pediatric HIT, rock-solid reliability, wonderful attention to detail, abilities for handling difficult doctors (cough, cough), and her political adeptness were perhaps some of the most important factors leading to the over 500% growth of the POF exhibit.

It has not yet been officially announced anywhere, but the POF will be quite operationally different this October in New Orleans. It’ll have a new name, fantastic new features and values for our attendees, marketing and PR light years beyond anything we’ve ever done, and will be far more accessible to any and all exhibitors (no longer “sponsors”). There will be much more bang per buck for both attendees and vendors. Again, much of this continued evolution has Jen at its core. Thanks for everything, Jen.

The folks filling her shoes seem pretty wonderful, too, I must admit. I just hope they have big enough feet!

From the trenches…

“You know an odd feeling? Sitting on the toilet eating a candy bar.” – George Carlin

Dr. Gregg Alexander, a grunt in the trenches pediatrician at Madison Pediatrics, is Chief Medical Officer for Health Nuts Media, directs the Pediatric Office of the Future exhibit for the American Academy of Pediatrics, and sits on the board of directors of the Ohio Health Information Partnership (OHIP).

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