A parallel universe: 25 years of the HIMSS Leadership Survey
September 16, 2014 in Medical Technology
Who knew 25 years ago where we’d be today?
Me, I was boarding a Greyhound bus in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada with two suitcases and a one-way ticket to start a new life in the United States. I had completed a graduate degree from Baylor University in Waco, Texas in 1988 and had moved back to Canada, where I was settling into a promising market research job. Then, my life took an interesting turn when I received a letter from the U.S. Consulate informing me that my application for permanent residency was selected.
I literally won the “immigration lottery.” So, there I was in late 1989, off to a “foreign” country to pursue my goal of pioneering in the field of healthcare market research… it was what I studied in graduate school, after all.
Who knew when I was boarding that bus, that a significant body of work which I now oversee was being birthed? In fact, 25 years ago, HIMSS commissioned the first annual survey of healthcare leaders working in this “new and exciting” field of information technology.
[Infographic: 25 years of health IT leadership]
So, when my staff and I recently reviewed the findings of the Annual HIMSS Leadership Survey from the last quarter century, it dawned on me that my “American” life, working in the healthcare industry, was reflected in the data of this annual survey… what an interesting walk down memory lane.
I started out in the early ’90s as a psych therapist in a Ft. Worth hospital where we had to “chart” on our patients. I was recognized by a Medicare reviewer as having one of the most legible handwritten notes she had ever seen. Imagine getting that compliment today.
Then, the only talk of electronic orders was orders the ward clerk put into the single computer we had on our floor. We were proud of the fact that she entered orders at least twice a shift.
I then worked in the strategic planning office of that same health system during the mid-’90s where we were buying up physician practices left and right. Funny, but I don’t remember anyone talking about data exchanges, although I do recall how one physician’s medical records were delivered to an empty room next to my office until they could find a more “permanent” storage space. This was also the period in which I first entered into this new thing called the “world wide web.” I was nervous clicking the WWW button on my AOL screen that first time!!
The latter part of the ‘90s found me with VHA, Inc. where we were pioneering work around a hospital “patient engagement” program called Laurus Health. We were all about leveraging the web in pulling people to various hospital services with no thought of using the web to “push” information to patients and consumers.
By the mid-2000s, I made another switch in my career and joined Press Ganey, one of the premier patient satisfaction vendors in the country. My role was to consult with hospitals on their physician satisfaction survey results. In doing so, I would work with hospitals to identify issues on which to query their physicians. Interestingly, only a few hospitals asked their physicians about this thing called the “EMR.” In 2008, with the hospitals I worked with, it just wasn’t that important to mention to the medical staff.
I landed at HIMSS Analytics in 2011 rather begrudgingly. Born out of ignorance, I didn’t have the most positive opinion of health IT. Having worked in the “all important” clinical and hospital administrative roles, IT seemed to be somewhat of a step backwards to me…after all, there must be a reason why most IT departments are located in the hospital’s basement. But HIMSS Analytics was a great opportunity, so why not?
Shortly after I got here, I learned how wrong my thinking was about health IT. This health IT thing was “big,” important, and driving a lot of initiatives in healthcare, even if I didn’t know it.
So, now as we celebrate the 9th Annual National Health IT Week, I admit I’m both embarrassed and encouraged. Embarrassed that it took me so long to recognize the critical role IT plays in the industry I feel the most passionate about. Encouraged that the tides have shifted and health IT is being widely elevated to a more prominent place in the life of healthcare organizations.
So what will the next twenty-five years hold? Who knows? But one thing is for certain, we’ll have the Annual HIMSS Leadership Survey to document the IT issues most pressing to hospital leaders.
This post originally appeared at the HIMSS blog.