The Microsoft Healthcare Users Group, an organization of healthcare informaticists and software technicians, has joined the much larger Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, HIMSS officials said today.
As part of an agreement reached this week, Ann Arbor, Mich.-based MS-HUG has become a membership community within the nascent HIMSS Users Group Alliance Program. Chicago-based HIMSS launched the program Aug. 25 by announcing the participation of Sun Microsystems.
The group retains its name even though it will wind down operations as an independent entity by Oct. 31.
"Because HIMSS and MS-HUG are working toward many of the same goals, unification makes sense," according to MS-HUG Chairman Andrew Fowler, CIO of Methodist Healthcare, an integrated delivery network in Memphis, Tenn.
"There was greater benefit to be gained by having that organization become a part of HIMSS than to remain an independent entity," says HIMSS President and CEO H. Steven Lieber. "It was as strategic to MS-HUG as it was to us."
According to Lieber, both organizations address the educational and professional needs of systems designers and programmers, rather than management.
Lieber says that only about a third of the approximately 1,500 individual and professional members of MS-HUG also belong to HIMSS, which counts about 13,000 individual and 150 corporate members. All current MS-HUG members have been granted HIMSS membership through July 1.
"We will be able to leverage some of our resources to create some more educational opportunities" for MS-HUG participants, Lieber says.
This includes the revival of Windows on Healthcare, a formerly annual national MS-HUG meeting that has been dormant since October 2001. Lieber says MS-HUG will hold a two-day Windows on Healthcare meeting in Orlando, Fla., in February, in conjunction with the annual HIMSS conference.