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Big health systems to promote connectivity

Geisinger Health System, Group Health Cooperative, Intermountain Healthcare, Kaiser Permanente and the Mayo Clinic will join together to promote sharing of electronic health data as part of a new organization called the Care Connectivity Consortium. The formal launch is set for 9 a.m. EDT Wednesday at the National Press Club in Washington, and the event will be webcast here.

According to a media advisory, the Care Connectivity Consortium is “a historic interoperability collaboration among five of the nation’s leading health systems to securely share electronic health information and best practices.” Executives from the organizations will be on hand to “will discuss the goals of the consortium, how sharing electronic health data supports high quality, patient-centered care, and the possibility of sharing electronic data in a secure environment.”

It sounds intriguing, but the five participants don’t have much geographic overlap, save for Kaiser’s reciprocal care agreement with Group Health in the Seattle area. Don’t expect any overnight miracles.

That aside, I’d really like to know the standards they’ll be using for data sharing. If they pick something that’s unformatted text, à la Blue Button, this initiative might be doomed to failure.

UPDATE 12:30 p.m. CDT: A publicist for the consortium tells me that the health systems will be following NHIN protocols for data sharing.

April 4, 2011 I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.

Chicago court ruling may affect future HIMSS conferences

The much-publicized decision for HIMSS to return to Chicago’s McCormick Place for its 2015 and 2019 annual conferences may be on hold, after a federal judge rejected portions of an Illinois law that would have helped reduce the high costs of exhibiting. HIMSS had shifted its 2012 conference to Las Vegas after vendors complained of price gouging at HIMSS09 in Chicago.

According to the Chicago Tribune, U.S. District Court Judge Ronald Guzman ruled Thursday that federal law prohibits states from passing legislation that would restrict private-sector employees from negotiating their own labor contracts. Though McCormick Place is run by a city-state public agency, most of the unionized laborers at the convention center work for private contractors, the newspaper reports.

Exhibitors and visitors alike have long complained about the high cost of doing business at McCormick place, due to rules that specify minimum crew sizes and billing times and restrictive union contracts that prohibit exhibitors from carrying in many of their own displays and even performing such mundane tasks as plugging in electrical cords on the exhibit floor. Materials costs also have been an issue; it reportedly cost one exhibitor $345 to get four cases of Pepsi delivered to its booth for a 2009 show.

Illinois and the City of Chicago enacted a set of new work rules for McCormick Place last year, which prompted HIMSS and a few other large events to sign contracts to return.

HIMSS hasn’t publicly commented on this latest development, but I’m waiting on a statement from the Chicago-based organization, and will update this post once I get that.

I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.