A dynamic HIMSS 12 in Las Vegas
To date, the US administration has subsidised care organisations to the tune of over US$3 billion to implement IT -- particularly electronic health records. Nor is that the end. Healthcare IT shows no sign of the general decline in US economy.
Therefore, it’s no surprise that HIMSS12 (www.himss.org) in Las Vegas broke all records, with 37,000 attendees including a large proportion of hospital representatives and numerous Europeans. In excess of 300 sessions and 1,100 exhibitors turned the gamblers’ paradise in the Nevada desert into a Mecca of know-how transfer and business initiatives – at least during show hours, writes EH correspondent Finn Snyder.
Hospital IT topics aired at HIMSS 12 included some US -specific items, such as the introduction of ICD-10, Meaningful Use, software for ACOs, and technology for patient engagement. Whereas the ICD-10 classification is already implemented in various countries, other topics from this selection are also of European interest: Meaningful Use, the US guideline that provides criteria for the current multi-stage IT subsidising strategy, may well lend itself to determining investment projects on our continent. ‘Accountable Care Organisations’ are pioneering patient or case management, which is also making headway in Europe. Additionally, ‘consumer orientation’, engaging patients interactively in the care chain, may also have a future on our side of the Atlantic.
Improvements to quality of and access to medical care, increased efficiency and reduced cost are primary goals of the current healthcare IT campaign in the US A. Dr Farzad Mostashari predicted that the majority of patient cases will be documented solely by electronic health records (EHRs) in 2013.
As National Coordinator for Health IT he considers Phase 1 of the US support initiative and the Meaningful Use criteria catalogue a success story. Figures made public by Kathleen Sbelius, US Department of Health and Human Services Secretary, testify to that almost 2,000 hospitals and more than 41,000 physicians received in excess of $3 billion in incentive payments for ensuring meaningful use of health IT, in particular certified EHRs. Phase 2 of Meaningful Use will be about engaging the patient, exchanging information, and supporting clinical decision-making. Dr Mostashari is also looking into integrating IT in imaging into the initiative.
Health Information Exchange (HIE) provides the backbone for cross-sector exchange of clinical information; interoperability is the key enabler for the unencumbered data flow required to meet the challenges. In this context, standards similar to those used in the National Heath Information Network (NHIN) Exchange are currently being implemented in Europe’s epSOS project. In this vein, interoperability player Health Level Seven International (HL7) announced that it will now make available several standardisation documents to the market -- free. The numerous hot technology issues discussed in the sessions and shown in the exhibition echo Europe’s medium and long-term top trends – mobility based on smartphones and tablets, tools for analysing clinical and business data, converging communication, nurse alarm systems, and auto-ID.
While embracement of new technologies, over time, has been rather similar in the U.S. compared to countries such as the UK and Germany, U.S. funding initiatives may now lead a widening of the gap.
* HIMSS 13 will be held in New Orleans from 3-7 March 2013
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