Watch out: Health IT is now a consumer buzzword

I don't know about you, but for me, the pre-HIMSS show excitement is building. I think this should be one of the most vibrant--and overwhelming--shows in the history of HIMSS itself. Why? Well, in part, it's because this has to be one of the first times in any of our professional lives when health IT went from the concern of group practice administrators and hospital leaders a topic that seems to interest everyone but my grandma. On the other hand, I'm not sure I like where this is going. Let me explain...

One of the most obvious indicators that health IT has gone public that there are bills and proposals directly affecting the industry mounting up daily. These days e-prescribing, PHRs, EMRs and health information exchanges are on the lips of elected officials who could barely use their own Blackberry otherwise. While President Bush has encouraged much of this, if the Democrats seize the White House, I don't think that's going to change. Health IT has moved from esoteric to a matter of mainstream discussion, and that's that.

This is something of a problem. After all, while legislators may be well-intentioned, they're usually not subject-matter experts, so they may not have a realistic picture of what problems you face. Besides, while they have to win some ill-defined popularity contest--if EMR is the flavor of the week in the mainstream press, well, then, everyone should have one--you just want to make sure your organization keeps delivering good care. We're talking a slight conflict of interests here.

I don't know about you, but when I'm at HIMSS, I'm usually more interested in talking with vendors who are solving non-trendy problems in a sensible way than listening to rah-rah new stuff. That's particularly true now that consumer interest has seeped into the industry and begun influencing how products are developed, sold and presented to you.

But hey, I don't want to be too cynical. Maybe there's some things that are both praised by the vox populi and worthy of being implemented. All I know is, when I'm at HIMSS, I'm planning to keep my trendiness quotient to a minimum. - Anne

Publisher's Note: For those of you attending HIMSS later this month, please join us for our second annual networking event "Opa!," on Monday, February 25. Along with our event partner Adobe, we'll be bringing you complimentary drinks and hors d'oeuvres as well as a chance to meet Editor Anne Zieger. This is a great opportunity to network with your fellow FierceHealthIT readers away from the hustle and bustle of the show floor. Click here to sign up for complimentary admission to the event. - Maurice Bakley, Publisher, FierceHealthIT