It has taken a few days to recover from my trip last week to the Health Information Management and Systems Society (HIMSS) Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida. There were a record 31,000 participants in attendance to celebrate HIMSS’s Fiftieth Anniversary! If you are not familiar with HIMSS, they are the one-of-a-kind forum for health Information Technology (IT) vendors, providers, government, anyone with interest in healthcare—to discuss best practices.
One of their series included “Views from the Top”, where national leaders could expound their view on the health care environment—and how health IT figures into the big picture. My favorite was Susan Dentzer, Editor-in-Chief of the popular Health Affairs publication—which reports on health, health care and policy. She began by relating how her very own Internist vowed to retire (even though he’s only in his fifties) so he didn’t have to start using an electronic health record! Asked later why she didn’t switch doctors, she replied—there were very few choices in the Washington, DC area where the physician took insurance and used an EHR.
She went on to state the hidden message that so many are missing—that health IT is an underpin to accountable care organizations (ACO), medical homes and the prevention/wellness theme of the Affordable Care Act. While she had so many valuable points about the landscape of health care, perhaps the most dramatic moment was when she quoted Bill Gates, Founder & Chairman of Microsoft:
“We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten.”
Susan Dentzer uses this profound quote to make the case for a transition to electronic health records. It is going to take time and it is critical to stay the course. Or as Bill Gates would say: “Don’t let yourself be lulled into inaction.”