Three trade groups representing separate slices of the healthcare information technology industry have formed an alliance to pool resources and increase their collective influence.
A key objective of the new alliance is to coordinate, develop and deliver educational programs on information technology to healthcare executives.
A parallel objective, and a current one, is to lobby for legislative and regulatory positions affecting the development and use of information technology. Regulation of some kind is becoming likely as the Food and Drug Administration continues its deliberations on treating clinical software as a medical device (Sept. 30, 1996, p. 6).
"We all have an opinion (on FDA regulation), but it would be nice to have one voice for the industry," said John Page, executive director of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society.
HIMSS is one of the three groups in the venture, dubbed the Joint Healthcare Information Technology Alliance. HIMSS represents more than 7,500 individuals in the fields of healthcare information systems, management engineering and telecommunications.
Other partners are:
The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives, representing about 650 chief information officers from healthcare provider institutions and payer organizations. All CHIME members have automatic dual membership in HIMSS.
The Center for Healthcare Information Management, representing 100 hardware and software vendors, consulting firms and service companies. Officials of CHIM have taken the lead in developing a response to the FDA regulatory initiative.
All three groups will come together as sponsors of the annual HIMSS conference and exhibition Feb. 16 to 20 in San Diego, a production that expects to attract 15,000 registrants for a lineup of more than 100 educational sessions and about 450 exhibitors.
But educational sessions are a year-round project for the groups, and the alliance can help reduce conflicts and duplication of seminar offerings while focusing on important educational needs, Page said.
For example, one emphasis for 1997 will be educating healthcare's senior leadership on the current and potential uses of information technology, he said.
Besides coordinating programs among the three groups, the alliance of not-for-profit organizations may be able to reduce educational costs and fill a need now targeted by for-profit seminar companies that have assembled offerings in the field, Page said.
Funding and direction for the alliance will be provided through a nine-member board with equal representation from each organization.