This is going to be a busy week for me. I am off to HIMSS 2010 in Atlanta for a two primary reasons (and about a thousand secondary). The first is to support my Healthcare colleagues from Washington Consulting at the conference. The second, which will make the first all the more challenging, is to learn more about the vertical that is Healthcare IT.
Before I jump into it, a funny little joke. When I was in a meeting and we were talking about the trip to HIMSS, someone mentioned HL7. Being one of many new terms to me, I didn’t ask them what it meant, just glanced at them with a curious look on my face. They told me, and I kid you not, Look it up later. Just remember that there is no HL6 or 8. Thanks for the help guys. ( I did learn what it was later and actually understood the “7” reference.)
Haven’t I Heard This Before?
So as I did research to get ready to hit the ground running, I saw a lot of challenges that the Healthcare industry is facing on the IT side. I had heard most of it from a high level before in news reports and in Information Management/ECM case studies. I had also picked some information up in planning for this year’s AIIM CMIS Demo.
When you strip out the names of the federal mandates and the acronyms that are common in the industry, I saw a lot words that I understood quite well:
- Interoperability: The Interoperability Showcase is a big piece of HIMSS. I understand this problem from Content Management. In fact, as you may have noticed, this is one of my favorite topics to discuss. Between AIIM’s iECM Committee and all my efforts with CMIS, I think I understand the core needs well.
- Standards: Very related to interoperability, but separate. There are several standards out there for Electronic Health Records (EHR) and Electronic Medical Records (EMR), not to mention other standards in the Healthcare space. How do you evaluate those standards for usability, adoption, and sustainability? Once again, not that much different from the evaluations of CMIS and the ECM standards before that.
- Legacy Paper Records: Wait a second, this I know. You have all these patient records in paper format. You need them in your EMR and EHR systems. New records may be electronic, but a patient’s medical history from pre-electronic days needs to be part of the integrated whole. Scanning of those records, capturing key data elements, and making them available is the same thing we’ve been doing for years just about everywhere.
- Records Management: How long do you keep a patient record? How do you manage it? What about records about maintaining hospital equipment? This is the same problems that federal agencies and companies dealing with SOX compliance have been solving, or attempting to solve, for years.
- Privacy: This is very important. You don’t want a patient’s health information being compromised. That is the most personal of your information. Information needs to be secure, yet shared, all at the same time. Once again, this is not a new problem. In the federal government, information about citizens are stored and used all the time. Personally Identifiable Information (PII) is a source of a lot of auditing and control in many systems. Even the exact queries that people use to retrieve information needs to be tracked and reported upon.
You know something? Maybe I know a little something about Healthcare IT after all.
Wandering, Learning, and Posting
So I am going to be attending sessions and talking to people for five days down in Atlanta. I am hoping to define the size of the gap in my domain knowledge, and work towards filling that gap. I am also going to post notes from some sessions in a similar fashion to my EMC World posts. I will throw in the following disclaimer:
All information in this post was gathered from the presenters and presentation. It does not reflect my opinion unless clearly indicated (Italics in parenthesis). Any errors are most likely from my misunderstanding a statement or imperfectly recording the information. Updates to correct information are reflected in red, but will not be otherwise indicated.
If you find anything of interest in these posts, and are at HIMSS, feel free to reach me on Twitter (@piewords). I’m looking for people to talk to that will expand my knowledge and deepen my understanding of the Healthcare industry.
Like all industries, there are unique challenges and environments in Healthcare IT. Like all industries, when you look at the core of the Information Management problem, you see similarities across the board, and lessons that can be brought to bear to solve them.
Going to be quite a ride this week. Stay tuned to see how I fare.