Possibly the Nerdiest Conference Ever

During my first day at YSPH, I remember being in a divisional orientation and we each had to introduce ourselves, some random fact that we wanted to share, and also our area of interest. I remember sharing a random anecdote about myself (probably about being Canadian and/or liking whiffle ball) and then described how I was interested in the “area where technology and quality intersect.”

For the rest of that first year, I tried to investigate and learn more about what this “area” really meant and what kind of applicable field would be my path. It wasn’t until my summer internship when I met the Chief Information Officer (CIO) of Northwestern Memorial Hospital that the pieces started fitting together and I learned of the term “health informatics.” It was mind blowing. This was the area that I wanted to pursue as my career.

A direct result of this discovery is my attending the HIMSS (Health Information and Management System Society) conference in Chicago, which officially kicks off tomorrow but really started yesterday with some informal sessions.
In a nutshell, this is the biggest health IT conference in the country and the emerging importance of this area is reflected in the quality of the keynote speakers which will be the head of Kaiser Permanente, Alan Greenspan, and my favorite, Dennis Quaid (I plan on asking him about GI Joe: The Movie – just kidding).

My experiences at this conference have been great so far. Last night, through a series of negotiations and persistence, I managed to get myself into the CIO Forum Reception, which was an informal cocktail hour where CIOs from hospitals, payers, and vendors mingled around. While at times I admittedly felt like I had no business being at this reception, it turned out to be a great event and I really got a chance to interact and pick the brains of health technology leaders in the world. I mean, what other opportunities do you get to have a conversation ranging from the quality of beers in Seattle to the impact of the economy towards health IT projects in hospitals?

Right now, I find myself sitting in on an all day forum on the payer/provider perspective towards health informatics and emerging technologies. We just heard from a speaker from CMS talking about the impact of the stimulus package (which is getting a lot of “buzz” or maybe Twitter comments at this conference) on this industry and now we’re talking about ways hospitals can better adopt new technologies using examples from Walmart to Massachusetts’ collaborative. Very interesting stuff and all will inevitably impact how health care is delivered in the forthcoming years.

I will post updates and thoughts throughout my time at HIMSS that will hopefully interest (or bore) you, so stay tuned.

Fact of the day:
Only 1.5% of hospitals in the United States have a comprehensive EHR system present in all clinical departments.


One Response

  1. i have to say, i may have you beat on the nerdiest conference ever. SAS Global Forum – 3000+ SAS programmers at disney world. there was even a SAS band.

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