The politics of health IT

Whatever you think of Bill Clinton, you just have to admit that as far as keynote speakers go, a U.S. president is a pretty good "get." But does the choice of Clinton as the marquee keynote indicate that next week's annual meeting of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society in New Orleans will have a political bent?

It's a rare HIMSS conference that doesn't include some kind of big announcement from one or more of the agencies that govern healthcare technology. But this year could be quieter than usual on the government front.

There's nothing on the radar, for example, about national patient identifiers, although many say movement on that front is overdue. HIMSS has championed the idea--but at last fall's College of Healthcare Information Management Executives meeting, Farzad Mostashari, M.D., national coordinator for health IT, basically told the audience not to hold its breath.

The quality and completeness of the attributes and consistency of matching information is a bigger priority, he said. "Let's make progress on what we can make progress on today and not pin our hopes on a distant future when Congress will somehow authorize a universal patient ID."

That said, there's sure to be some good tidbits at sessions on topics that are top-of-mind for CIOs, such as "The Ins and Outs of Meaningful Use: Understanding Stage 1 Changes & Stage 2 Requirements," led by Steven Posnack, director of the Federal Policy Division at ONC.

There will be a session on state and federal requirements for quality measurement reporting, a Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services perspective on health information exchange, two events on the topic of eHealth and, of course, sessions on ICD-10 and HIPAA.

You can check out the full list of government agencies participating in the show and descriptions of their events and forums here.

Clinton speaks on Wednesday, March 6, at 1 p.m. Mostashari takes the stage Thursday at 8:30 a.m. and political consultant James Carville and jack-of-several trades Karl Rove speak on Thursday at 12:30.

Other keynotes include Warner Thomas, president and CEO of Ochsner Health System Monday at 8 a.m., and cardiologist Eric J. Topol, chair of innovative medicine at Scripps Health and professor of genomics at the Scripps Research Institute on Tuesday at 8:30 a.m. 

To learn more:
- get details on all of the keynotes here 
- check out the full list of government sessions here


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