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Interoperability, meaningful use will be the stars at HIMSS13

By H. Stephen Lieber
Posted: March 1, 2013 - 12:01 am ET

As the 2013 Annual HIMSS Conference & Exhibition opens in New Orleans on March 3, I think of HIMSS07, our last conference in the city, less than two years after Hurricane Katrina.

Now, six years later, as the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society returns to a rebuilt, reinvigorated New Orleans, the exchange of interoperable electronic health information can claim the same type of transformation. The difference, I see, is integration of efforts—a collaborative field where all stakeholders in our industry realize we must work together to ensure that patient care does indeed improve with the best use of health information technology.

Let me explain.

Meaningful use: Less than two years after the first incentive checks were sent out, the Medicare and Medicaid EHR incentive program had paid out $10.7 billion to 190,000 providers for meeting Stage 1 of meaningful use. Also as of Dec. 31, 2012, more than 355,000 eligible professionals, hospitals and critical-access hospitals had registered their intent to achieve meaningful use. An analysis of HIMSS Analytics' EMR Adoption Model backs up those numbers from the CMS; our data show that hospitals are implementing electronic health records at an accelerating rate, with nearly a quarter of U.S. civilian hospitals achieving the highest adoption stages, 5, 6 and 7 (0 is all paper, 7 is paperless). When the first Medicare EHR incentive program payments were made in 2011, just over 11% scored in that range. This is great news because health IT is foundational to transforming healthcare in America. The nationwide program to harness the power of electronic health records receives bipartisan support, creates jobs, saves healthcare costs and enables healthcare providers to collect, share and analyze data to improve the quality of care.At HIMSS13, we will introduce the Meaningful Use Experience, an exhibit area focused solely on the products and services that will help providers comply with meaningful use. The Intelligent Hospital Pavilion brings another example of integrated exhibitions and education with diverse and interruptive technologies from wireless devices to RFID, RTLS and more.

Interoperability Showcase: The HIMSS Interoperability Showcase—at HIMSS13 and other locations worldwide—truly shows interoperability at work. At these demonstrations, attendees will see examples of what's on the horizon and how software, infrastructure and medical devices make standards-based interoperability possible through real-life success stories of how interoperability improves patient care. HIMSS Innovation Center: Also at HIMSS13, the Interoperability Showcase brings this perspective to attendees with one addition, a kiosk on the HIMSS Innovation Center. HIMSS opens this year-round interoperability demonstration in mid-October as part of the Global Center for Health Innovation in Cleveland. The innovation center will be divided into two areas: HIMSS Innovation Center, featuring the HIMSS Integrated Ecosystem; and HIMSS Exhibition space with the Healthcare Technology Showcase. Health professionals and consumers can gather in this space to take part in partially or fully automated technical demonstrations, testing events and exhibitions. Providers of information systems (clinical and business systems), mobile device companies, and patient-care device manufacturers will be able to showcase their system capabilities, collaborate with industry experts and inform policymakers, technology purchasers and health consumers at the HIMSS Innovation Center. Measuring the value of health IT: Collaboration also demands evaluation—how are those activities of alignment working? The same guideline holds true for the healthcare sector, where I believe the typical economic models are inadequate for assessing return on investment.Facilities across the U.S. are working to obtain the highest level of implementation and use of health IT. Each year, HIMSS Davies Award winners are outstanding examples of what communities are working to achieve. The following are only three examples of the transformation that's under way.Interoperability, return on investment, meaningful use—and more—will be covered at HIMSS13 in New Orleans. I look at this year as one of collaboration, with alignment of efforts, knowledge and expectations from so many stakeholders as we all work to improve healthcare delivery with the best use of IT. During our days in the Big Easy, look for some of the sessions I've mentioned here, enjoy connecting with familiar and new friends, and enjoy some of the sights of the city. Visit for more information, and I hope to see you at HIMSS13 in the days ahead.

H. Stephen Lieber is president and CEO of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society.


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