Key Takeaways from the AMDIS 2013 Annual Physician-Computer Connection Symposium

This year’s Association of Medical Directors of Information Systems (AMDIS) annual Physician-Computer Connection Symposium brought together healthcare IT leadership from around the country to collaborate and share their perspectives. The discussion ranged from micro- to macro-level issues, from day-to-day operations to global trends and the likely future direction of their organizations.

Overall, the discussion centered less on how Meaningful Use and healthcare reform would impact the role of informatics and more on exactly how much it will shape the delivery of healthcare and affect patient care. 

The consensus amongst Symposium attendees was that as the incentives/penalties for Meaningful Use escalate, they will have real impact on the business models around healthcare delivery. There was also an acknowledgment that Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) are a reality and figuring out how to transition from a “fee-for-service” payment model to a value-based one is a major challenge that will face all hospitals and networks in the near term. Add to this the pending advent of ICD-10, and the pace of change seems to accelerate daily.

As in prior years, there was an emphasis on increasing the quality and quantity of data and knowledge about healthcare safety. More importantly, this data needs to be actionable in order to positively impact affect patient care. The utility of retrospective data every quarter (“report cards” or Meaningful Use annual checklists) is minimal compared to the ability to get more timely feedback, decision support and take corrective action in the moment of care delivery (or as close to that as possible). Part of what is required to achieve this is interoperability between disparate systems, particularly since one broken link in connectivity can nullify the effectiveness of the rest of system.

As technology advances and more rigorous academic studies come to the forefront exploring their effectiveness, it becomes obvious that there will be a significant cost, and prioritization of IT resources is essential. This is where chief medical information officers (CMIOs) can play a major role in bridging the gap between technical solutions and novel approaches to solving the clinical problems at hand.

For example, in response to a discussion about reducing “wrong patient orders,” rather than advocating for security changes that could disrupt workflow, one CMIO suggested adding patient pictures to the chart as an alternative way to reduce the likelihood of order entry on the wrong patient. This could avoid alert fatigue and inconvenience while improving the overall quality of care. And, because many clinicians carry smartphones, they already have a camera in their pocket. Healthcare is becoming an increasingly mobile industry, and as this suggestion illustrates, CMIOs can leverage this transition to provide clinicians with the tools they need while minimizing the required IT resources.

The key point of this discussion and one of the important takeaways from the AMDIS Physician-Computer Connection Symposium is that discussions that are technical in nature should be grounded in clinical reality. This is the true value of the CMIO perspective, and conferences like this Symposium help ensure that ideas and innovations take into account what matters most – delivering high-quality patient care.