Health IT Week raises awareness of EMRs, but does little else

It's National Health IT Week again, the fifth annual, and hundreds if not thousands of EMR advocates--and no doubt a few skeptics--have converged on Washington, D.C. I'm not among them.

As I noted last fall in FierceHealthIT, the week seems to have petered out a bit the last couple of years. That doesn't mean it's completely insignificant, though.

You'd think it's an important event from the brief coverage The Hill gave it on Tuesday. The unabashedly inside-the-Beltway publication ran some pre-packaged quotes from Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.), co-chair of the 21st Century Health Care Caucus, but didn't get into much depth other than reiterating that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 appropriated more than $20 billion in federal funding for EMRs and other health IT.

Tuesday and Wednesday featured the Government Health IT Conference and Exhibition, an event now sponsored by HIMSS by virtue of that organization's purchase of Government Health IT last year, and there were some interesting sessions I would like to have attended. Mostly, though, Health IT Week is a time for raising the profile of the industry and the cause.

Of note, HIMSS Analytics announced an updated list of "Stage 6" hospitals--facilities that have achieved full, structured physician documentation in an EMR for at least one service area, CPOE with advanced clinical decision support, electronic medication reconciliation, a clinical data repository and full PACS. That, of course, allows each new hospital on the list--and each of the associated vendors--to promote itself in its local market and to publications like this one. We received one announcement from QuadraMed about Arnot Ogden Medical Center in Elmira, N.Y., and another from UPMC, which has two new additions to the HIMSS Analytics list.

Other than that, though, I'm rather underwhelmed by the Health IT Week lineup.

On a brighter note, I will be hosting "Web portals: How a one-stop information hub can improve patient care & staff satisfaction," a FREE FierceHealthIT webinar on Tuesday, June 22, at 2 p.m. EDT, presented by IBM. Speakers include: Barry Grover, director of information technology services at Floyd Memorial Hospital and Health Services in New Albany, Ind.; well-known medical economist and author J.D. Kleinke; and Joseph Preston, worldwide healthcare business development executive in the IBM Software Group. Click here to register. - Neil