I was hired by HIMSS in the spring of 2007, three years after President Bush signed an Executive Order calling for the creation of the Office of the National Coordinator and electronic health records for all Americans by 2014. It was the first step in what turned out to be a multi-year process to bring about meaningful health reform.
By 2010, two landmark pieces of legislation had moved health reform decisively from theory to law—ARRA/HITECH and the Affordable Care Act. The political debate surrounding these laws was often acrimonious. The media’s coverage of the policies were—to put it charitably—lacking substance.
Five days a week, (and sometimes seven, especially in the months leading up to Annual Conference), I would spend my time reading and listening to the health industry’s best and brightest discuss and debate with authority the opportunities and challenges posed by ARRA and the proposed health reform law. At night, I went home and watched shockingly obtuse cable-news yakkers work themselves up into a lather, marveling at the sheer amount of bad information generously shoveled into the heads of a confused and increasingly frustrated public. This was made worse by the media’s predictable desire to focus on politics of reform to the near-total exclusion of actual policy implications, of which were legion.
Yes, health reform and ARRA is about providers and organizations providing better care to more patients at a lower cost. But a significant aspect of the two laws is patient empowerment, allowing people greater control of their own health, scrutinizing their options and making informed decisions. And if all you know of health reform is “death panels” and sausage-making congressional procedures like reconciliation, you are way behind the curve. Health reform will never reach its true potential without an informed public.
What I most appreciate about my time at HIMSS is its unfailing ability to bring together passionate, knowledgeable people who want educate themselves, their peers and, by extension, the public about what those seemingly inscrutable piles legislation mean in the real world. I appreciate working for an organization where the desire to provide clear, concise, evidence-based information is the order of the day. I appreciate the successes of so many providers and healthcare organizations, because I know that many of those success came only after overcoming significant challenges—and even multiple failures. So I am grateful for chance to be even a minor cog in this remarkable period of transformation.
As the manager of the Journal of Healthcare Information Management, or JHIM, HIMSS’ quarterly, peer-reviewed journal, I get to peek behind the curtain and see how kernels of an idea—be it CPOE, EHRs, PHRs or another kind of health IT—are methodically built up into workable solutions. Knowledgeable experts author every paper and column published in the Journal with those articles rigorously scrutinized by peer reviewers. It’s just one way HIMSS provides the health IT community with evidence-based information.
So, I invite you to share your ideas, solutions and expertise in the pages of JHIM—either as a contributor or a peer reviewer. Our contributions are used as research and starting points for health IT solutions around the globe. And our peer-review process ensures that the information provided is evidence-based and accurate.
The health IT landscape has changed significantly since President’s Bush’s 2004 executive order. JHIM is a great way to engage in the continuing transformation of our health system.
Please contact me at email@example.com, if you would like to know more about getting involved.