HIMSS '09 Blows into the Windy City
Today's rainy, sleety, snowy mix wasn't the welcoming weather organizers would have liked, but attendees at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society Conference were bright-eyed and ready for action. The conference kicked off yesterday with a tech forum, symposia and an awards banquet, among other events, but today marked the opening of the exhibit hall and the first general session.
Right off the bat, a major focus of the conference has been on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and its impact on HIT. From the packed Certification Commission for HIT town hall to the welcome address from HIMSS Board of Directors Chair Charles Christian, FCHIME, FHIMSS, everyone is talking about the opportunities and challenges of EHR entitlements.
At the general session, actor, director and advocate Dennis Quaid shared the story of his twin children's brush with death due to medication error. Poor labeling resulted in the newborns receiving lethal doses of Heparin--a mistake that could be avoided with HIT. Quaid now envisions the day when innovations like bar coding and EHRs are common in all hospitals. But, he said, the nation needs "leadership to adopt the technology."
Amid the buzz over big league HIT initiatives, there was also quite the hubbub about social media opportunities in health care. Attendees packed in for a roundtable discussion about Health 2.0. IT staffers and CIOs alike shared their views about the benefits and risks of adopting social media at health care institutions. Yet, the majority of attendees at the roundtable kept mum on the topic. We're they just shy, haven't broached Web 2.0 or didn't want to reveal trade secrets? We may never know. The important thing is people are talking about Health 2.0, and it's something to keep an eye on.
After a long day of hustling around the convention center, attendees enjoyed some hard-earned food and fun at the opening reception. A funk band played throughout the night as attendees rubbed elbows and filled plates. The food was Chicago-themed, with stations such as Wrigleyville, featuring ballpark favorites like hot dogs and popcorn, and Greektown, where you could scoop up pita and hummus.
Tomorrow's agenda: educational sessions and exploring the exhibit hall. Keep following us on Twitter and check back on our blog as we continue to bring coverage.