Monday, February 26, 2007

Information from HIMMS Summit Meeting

HIMSS Chair Kicks Off Conference by Touting Necessity of Health ITFebruary 26, 2007
The health IT industry should stop debating the value of electronic health records and accept the technology's importance in the future of health care, Buddy Hickman, chair of the Healthcare Information Management Systems Society board, said on Monday in his opening remarks at the annual HIMSS conference in New Orleans, Healthcare IT News reports."Placing the focus on quality, patient safety and necessary clinical process improvements is consistent with HIMSS' mission and with the reasons why adoption of [health IT] was strongly recommended by the Institute of Medicine's Crossing the Quality Chasm report," Hickman said.Hickman also encouraged the industry to have a unified voice on goals, policies and messages, including a broader view on health IT from the federal and state levels. "In this way, [health IT] becomes part of a necessary solution to critical challenges rather than being viewed as a lesser priority competing for funds," he said."Through smart public policy, alliances and the right incentives, we can create the right kind of national health information network -- one that contributes to quality, safety and better outcomes for all," Hickman said, adding, "If we don't do this now, we only create a greater challenge to fix later" (Enrado, Healthcare IT News, 2/26).

Microsoft last year acquired medical database developer Azyxxi and currently has more than 600 employees focused on health care projects, according to Microsoft Vice President Peter Neupert. Health care "is a huge sector of our economy," yet it still is relatively low tech, he said. As the country's aging baby boomers require more medical attention, the need for health care technology will become clearer, Neupert said. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer on Monday will speak at the Healthcare Information Management Systems Society's annual conference in New Orleans. IBM General Manager Dan Pelino said that better computer systems could improve the accuracy of data, prevent duplication and reduce errors. More than 4,000 IBM employees are working on health care products, USA Today reports. IBM also is developing a nationwide patient database with HHS that would store patient information regardless of which hospital or physician a patient visited. Intel and Motion Computing this month unveiled a laptop for physicians and nurses that includes a digital camera to take pictures of patients.
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