I grew up in a small farming town in northwest Florida. We were fond of saying we were from LA, by which we meant Lower Alabama. Small town life was pretty quiet, so the annual county fair week was an exciting time. During fair week we headed to the fairgrounds as soon as the school bell rang in the afternoons. I have an olfactory memory of the chickens, cows, and pigs in the farm animal exhibit. As I recall, the rides and games were the same every year: the Tilt-a-Whirl, the Scrambler, picking up yellow ducks in the tin water channel, and popping balloons with darts to win prizes. Supper included corn dogs with mustard and pink cotton candy for dessert. Fair week was all about excitement, community, and new ideas.
Welcome to the annual National Health IT Week 2016 kicking off today and running through Friday, September 30. This year the tag line is “Health IT’s value proposition” and the themes for presentations and workshops include:
- Precision medicine
- Public and population health
- The role of women in Health IT
If you are a physician, you might not buy into all of the tractor-pulling excitement of a week celebrating Health IT. According to Medscape’s recent physician survey, EHRs contribute significantly to physician burnout. Physician’s report dissatisfaction with “bureaucratic tasks,” including computer-data input time that takes away time from patient care.
While information systems remain burdensome for physicians, health care technology and digital data are supporting a health care transformation for better care and better health. Precision medicine is an example of Health IT facilitating the delivery of the right care at the right time to the right patient. Health IT that leverages an individual patient’s genomics, environment, and lifestyle can catapult health care from using “average patient” guidelines or one-size-fits-all care to customized care strategies for health and wellness.
To highlight Health IT progress as part of National Health IT Week, Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) supports patient, family, and care provider storytelling. Real-life stories provide examples of how digital records, interoperability, and data management have already impacted patient care. In particular, many patients and families document personal empowerment, created by having access to their health records. Health IT supports “consumer self-care” which can ultimately improve patient experience and lower health care costs. Health IT innovations can bring health care “to where health and illness happens at home, in our neighborhoods, at work, and where we live and play.” You can document a story or read stories on this website.
Women in Health IT is an interesting focus for National Health IT Week. HIMSS recently published the “HIMSS Longitudinal Gender Compensation Assessment (2006-2015)” to document gender issues in Heath IT. Survey data shows that a gender pay gap has persisted over the past decade. In 2015 the average salary for Health IT workers was ~$130,000 for men and ~$105,000 for women. In the past 10 years the gender pay gap has widened for new female employees, but has narrowed for female employees with a longer working tenure. Despite this trend, the gender pay gap is widest at senior and executive management levels. For-profit vendors have the lowest gender pay gap compared to not-for-profit and government Health IT employers, which have larger gender-related pay disparities. Panel discussions and workshops on pay equity will be held during National Health IT Week.
If you are interested in National Health IT Week events you can find event, meeting, and webinar information at healthitweek.org. HIMSS supports this Health IT celebration with a robust social media presence including a big Twitter presence. You can join the conversation at #HITsm chat or host your own Twitter chat.
There is plenty of online county-fair excitement about in-person and virtual events celebrating Health IT Week. It is a time to celebrate progress in health care technology, progress that may be more apparent to health care consumers and organizations than providers. If you can spare 1 minute and 32 seconds I suggest watching an inspiring video from Mandi Bishop. She tells the story of a smooth transition for her 90-year-old grandparents from their home to assisted living with real-time delivery of all of their medical records, including records from a recent hospitalization. It’s a Health IT success story filmed during in flight on a commercial airliner with a smart phone. Welcome to the new world!
Share your Health IT story or comment with us!
Dugan Maddux, MD, FACP, is the Vice President for CKD Initiatives for FMC-NA. Before her foray into the business side of medicine, Dr. Maddux spent 18 years practicing nephrology in Danville, Virginia. During this time, she and her husband, Dr. Frank Maddux, developed a nephrology-focused Electronic Health Record. She and Frank also developed Voice Expeditions, which features the Nephrology Oral History project, a collection of interviews of the early dialysis pioneers.