After a courtship of several years, the Association of Medical Directors of Information Systems and the Healthcare Information Management Systems Society have made it officialnot the consummation of a marriage, but the public acknowledgement that the two organizations have "an arrangement."
AMDIS Board Chairman William Bria announced the partnership during AMDIS' 16th Annual Physician-Computer Connection Symposium in Ojai, Calif., Thursday, after attaining board approval the night before.
"This is collaboration, just as we are a collaboration of physicians," Bria said. "The idea of promoting you is the real heart of doing this. It's not absorption."
Patricia Wise, vice president of healthcare information systems for the Chicago-based HIMSS, said her organization is looking to AMDIS members for their expertise in clinical information systems, designing educational programs and the "public comment process" for government IT policy.
AMDIS Executive Director Richard Rydell, who is a past chairman of the HIMSS board and a life member of the organization, negotiated the pact with HIMSS. AMDIS and HIMSS have talked about a relationship off and on over the years, Rydell said, which reached a more formal level in 2003 co-promoting a physician symposium at the annual HIMSS trade show. That relationship had nearly soured with spats over program content and operations as well as the level of AMDIS recognition and involvement at the HIMSS events.
Rydell said preconditions for the current agreement were put in place last year during discussions about the continued involvement by AMDIS in the educational program at the HIMSS show.
"The demands essentially were it has to come back to AMDIS being the key player in this," Rydell said. Participant surveys conducted by HIMSS about the New Orleans HIMSS trade show showed the changes were well-received, Rydell said.
"That was one of the factors that HIMSS realized that AMDIS' influence on that program improved it," Rydell said. "It was well-received."
In addition to working together on educational efforts, Rydell said he sees a continuing relationship developing in the areas of publication and public advocacy for IT.
David Roberts, vice president of government relations for HIMSS, gave AMDIS members a Capitol Hill update Wednesday. Rydell said that Roberts "has been a fixture at our last three meetings and we're going to be a fixture in Washington when he needs physician input."
The first steering committee meeting was Tuesday, on the night before the AMDIS symposium.
Ten of the 11 members of the steering committee of the new organization, called the HIMSS Physician Community, are AMDIS members, Rydell said.
"There is no consideration, there is no money involved in this," Rydell said. In addition, AMDIS is not obliged under the agreement to support all legislative efforts backed by HIMSS. "There is no requirement that we align ourselves with their political positions."
"The nature of our agreement is that we both will retain our independence and we collaborate as partners," he said.
Physician-informaticist and AMDIS attendee Dick Gibson, said probably the most valuable thing AMDIS can provide HIMSS is access to IT savvy physicians willing to defend healthcare IT. On Wednesday, Bria and several speakers at the conference talked about a "backlash" toward IT adoption, evidenced by a series of studies and reports about weak links between clinician use of healthcare IT system use and the quality of care patients received. Several studies even pointed to relationships between IT use and poorer clinical performance.
Gibson, senior vice president and chief information officer at Legacy Health Systems, Portland, Ore., said, "When negative articles about IT come out, HIMSS needs people to come back and respond."
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