Wrapping up #HIMSS15: Closing keynotes focus on affordable, effective care


Former President George W. Bush started the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for Health IT back in 2004. He was also the first president to call for electronic health records. So, I was interested to see what his thoughts were on the current state of health IT during the HIMSS15 keynote address.

Although he didn’t delve into the details of health IT the way his copresenter Dr. Karen DeSalvo did, President Bush was entertaining. He was quick to make fun of himself, which immediately helped him win over the crowd of nearly 7,000. What has he been doing since he retired?

“I’ve written a couple of books,” Bush said. “Which may be a surprise seeing how many of you didn’t think I could read, let alone write.”

Not only was he incredibly relatable, he shared some valuable insight which I think will resonate with those of us in the healthcare industry:

  • You should always do the right thing, even if it means your reputation will take a hit
  • Health IT is a work in progress, things don’t happen overnight
  • “Interoperability” can be difficult to say, particularly in front of a camera

Focusing on care
Dr. DeSalvo, former leader of the ONC, and Andy Slavitt, acting leader of the ONC, elaborated on President Bush’s point that it’s important to do the right thing. To them, this means being accountable to their stakeholders – American taxpayers who want better outcomes, more convenient care delivery and more cost transparency. It was refreshing to hear that the industry’s focus has shifted from health IT adoption to something much more powerful: Affordable and effective care.

Slavitt shared a story about one particular hospital that experienced a Medicare reimbursement reduction. The reduction put the hospital at great risk, but forced it to make huge strides in terms of electronic medical records (EMRs). Once the EMR was in place, patient outcomes improved by 32 percent, a true testament to how powerful electronic medical records can be when properly utilized.

Dr. DeSalvo and Slavitt also strongly advised for interoperability. They said the American people expect it and deserve it – and the ONC will not stop until this goal is achieved. That’s where enterprise content management (ECM) can help. The right ECM solution enables providers to exchange information globally, regardless of file type. This is a huge step forward in lowering costs and achieving better outcomes for patients.

As the healthcare industry continues to innovate and create solutions, it’s refreshing to hear that the ONC is on the same page.

As Dr. DeSalvo said, we’re in the fourth quarter and that’s when you win or lose the game.

Kate Barney, RN, is Hyland's marketing portfolio manager for the healthcare industry.
Kate Barney

Kate Barney

Kate Barney, RN, is Hyland’s marketing portfolio manager for the healthcare industry.

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