Incredibly, we are in the last week of November and will soon be celebrating Thanksgiving. November has been a month of national meetings for me including the ASN in Atlanta and last week’s AMIA meeting in Washington, DC. Both meetings included a number of insightful speakers discussing a broad range of topics. I thought I might highlight a couple of tidbits collected along the way.
The American Medical Informatics Association drew almost 2,000 souls to our nation’s capital last week. The plenary speaker was Dave deBronkart, aka e-patient Dave. Dave gave a rousing presentation regarding the power of patient engagement. For those of you unfamiliar with Dave’s story, I think you will find his TED talk illuminating.
The following day we had the opportunity to meet Dr. Jacob Reider, acting National Coordinator at ONC. Jacob clearly has a sense of humor and is surrounded by a team of very bright individuals who joined him on stage to answer questions in a town hall like fashion. It was clear from that conversation ONC is looking forward to the third stage of meaningful use. The presentation provided no hints that ONC is considering postponing the next stage, an idea that continues to receive attention from others. Instead, Jacob reiterated ONC’s guiding framework, which he has printed on the back of his business card:
- Open, transparent, inclusive decision making
- Eye on the prize
- Feet on the ground
- Use the market and foster innovation
- Open to all folks (watch out for the little guy)
- And above all: Place the patient (and their interests) in the center
It remains unclear whether or not Jacob will become our fifth national coordinator, but I must say he seemed very reasonable and was quite approachable.
Dwarfing AMIA in size, the annual American Society of Nephrology meeting can be a bit overwhelming at times. I had the chance to participate in one of the precourses, which was jointly sponsored by the ASN and the RPA. It was nice to see this collaboration successfully produce the first “Business of Nephrology” session at the ASN. The following day, during the plenary session, Dr. Bruce Molitoris, President of the ASN, kicked things off with a sobering look at our specialty. Declining interest in nephrology has created a scenario that may see some fellowship positions go unfilled during the upcoming match. Disappointment soon turned to amazement as I sat through Dr. Anthony Atala’s state-of-the-art lecture entitled “Regenerative Medicine: New Approaches to Healthcare.” Imagine your cells being used to build a heart or a kidney and you will have some idea of the remarkable things taking place in this rapidly evolving field. We are definitely not in Kansas anymore!
Capturing the essence of these two meetings within a single blog post is a tall order. Not to mix apples and oranges, but after the ASN meeting, I came across an article in Health Affairs that spoke to Dr. Molitoris’ concerns regarding our looming physician workforce shortage. The article, entitled “The Impact of Health Information Technology and e-Health on the Future Demand for Physician Services,” was authored by Dr. David Blumenthal, former national director of ONC. The piece makes the case that fully implemented health IT solutions (e-health, telemedicine, delegation from physician to NP or PA, and asynchronous patient communication, among others solutions) could raise physician capacity by 8-15%.1 Clearly there are several assumptions within the article, but this is the first review I have seen related to the potential efficiencies that might be harvested as a result of health information technology.
In addition to fostering new insights and supporting a lifetime commitment to learning, this year’s November meetings also served as excellent venues to catch up with colleagues and friends. Were you able to attend a November meeting? If so, drop us a note and let us know what you learned. I hope that you and your families have a Happy Thanksgiving.
1Blumenthal, D. The Impact of Health Information Technology and e-Health on the Future Demand for Physician Services. Health Aff. 2013; 32(11):1998-2004.