Each week, CMIO Magazine publishes a note from the editor, Mary Stevens, who takes the opportunity to comment on current events and trends in the healthcare IT industry. This past week, Stevens reflected upon an interview with Dr. David Blumenthal from the Office of the National Coordinator on health IT initiatives and the anticipated direction for 2011.
During the interview, Dr. Blumenthal emphasized healthcare interoperability as being a key focus for 2011.
“Right now we’re focusing on creating pathways to move information. We expect that they won’t be technology-bound—once you get standardized information that is consumable electronically, then the pathways we’re creating should be available to all kinds of information.”
I was particularly intrigued by the way Stevens structured her editorial piece, suggesting that one word, interoperability, could describe the efforts of an industry in an entire year. I agree with the ONC that interoperability is a focus for the year. However, in my opinion, I believe the year is focused on making decisions regarding interoperability and then implementing those decisions.
Around the same time I read Steven’s editorial piece on interoperability, I began using a new social media site called, Quora, which seems to be a combination of Twitter, Facebook and Google. The site allows users to ask questions and write responses in forum style feed. Current traffic on the site is noticeably early adopters and the groups currently using the platform seem to be already actively engaged in social media on other sites.
The demographic of users currently on Quora seem knowledgeable and fairly educated on the subjects they follow and respond to. Even in my short time as a user on the site, I have been fascinated watching a number of particularly stimulating conversations unfold.
In light of Steven’s editorial piece and the “one word” approach, I decided to ask users on Quora to answer the same question:
“If there was one word to describe the health IT industry in 2011, what would that word be?”
The top voted answer to this question was written by Pallav S. His word was “bubble.” His reasoning was as follows:
- Lots of ill-defined buzzwords being followed and promoted without anybody raising an eyebrow (ACOs, mHealth, Meaningful Use, Health 2.0 etc.).
- Event managers getting rich, organizing conferences about the same (check out the slew of Health 2.0 conferences, mHealth conferences, Quantified Self conference)
- The right amount of federal money pumped in (~$2B from HITECH act, recent increase in NIH Grants..)
- Healthcare IT being a part of marketing schpeal of big players. In Tech- RIMs playbook, Intel’s Healthguide for example. In consulting- Accenture, McKinsey, IBM, even Northrup Grumman have practices on HIT. Even infrastructure players like wireless operators (ATT, Verizon) have recently established formal Healthcare practices. Lots of money flowing in, cross-subsidized by other industries.
- In my mind it describes the current state of industry- lots of hype, few fundamental leaps made, plenty of distraction and exaggerated hopes.
Other responses included the following words: Struggle, Late-Adoptions, Decisive (My own contribution), Limitations and Complex.
I was impressed with the responses I had received on Quora, so I decided to ask the same question during the #HITsm chat on this past Monday evening. Responses ranged from workflow analysis and understanding work to connectivity and integration.
Now, I ask the question to you:
If you could describe the health industry in 2011 in one word, what would that word be?