‘Human super glue’

SAN DIEGO—I’m at the Physician Computer Connection, the annual conference of the Association of Medical Directors of Information Systems. It’s a gathering of about 150 of the best and brightest in medical informatics, mostly chief medical information officers and other high-level, technologically savvy clinicians.

It’s a good bet I’m the dumbest person in the room. With this crowd, I don’t feel so bad about it.

Speakers include Dick Gibson, M.D., of Providence Health System in Portland, Ore.; Clinicomp CEO Richard Kremsdorf, M.D.; and Kaiser-Permanente IT pros Howard Landa, M.D., and Dean Sittig. David Brailer, M.D., will be here Friday morning, not so much to speak as to have an open discussion with the AMDIS folks.

Gartner’s Vi Shaffer described the CMIO as the “human super glue” of healthcare IT, the person who holds everything together. Gartner is conducting a survey with AMDIS to shed some light on what makes a CMIO, what they do, how they think, what they earn and how they lead.

Shaffer discussed some interim results, but those, alas, were not for publication by people like me. Look for some surprises when a report comes out in August.

Also in the pipeline is a full mea culpa from Cedars-Sinai Health System on the infamous 2003 failure of the Los Angeles hospital’s CPOE system. Cedars had a “lessons learned” poster at last year’s international MedInfo conference, but now some of the key players are working on a more comprehensive report that will be submitted to JAMA or some other widely read journal.

(Click here to read what I wrote about the MedInfo poster.)

Showing the forward-thinking nature of this crowd, Diane Gilbert Bradley of Eclipsys said that electronic clinical notes are only as good as the system they are part of. She talked about how hospitals must shoot for the “next level” of point-of-care documentation, namely interdisciplinary documentation, so, for example, a rehabilitation specialists know a radiologist found.

Online patient-physician communication guru Eric Liederman, M.D., of UC-Davis in Sacramento, Calif., talked about how to safeguard patient privacy without compromising care. He included a message for the many healthcare executives and lawyers who still are confused about HIPAA.

“Privacy is what we apply to the people who are already inside the castle,” Liederman said. “Security is about keeping the bad guys out.” For example, a user ID is a privacy tool; a password is for security.

It sounds simple enough in this company, but the masses continue to scratch their heads.