Industry changes forged perfect partnership

By Neil Rouda
12:00 AM

Steve Lieber, President/CEO of HIMSS, is a soft-spoken man from a small town in Arkansas, and I'm a boisterous guy, with a big booming voice, from the suburbs of New York.

So when Steve and I first met, over lunch in Chicago, we brought two very different sets of experiences to the table. But we had much in common. Each of us had found our way to a passion for the potential of healthcare IT. As a newspaper publisher with an idea, and an association executive looking for a better communications platform, we explored how we might work together.

We both saw the extraordinary amount of information that healthcare information executives must stay on top of, and the challenge this information explosion presents for time-pressed professionals. We both saw the broadening of the decision-making process for healthcare information systems and we saw the challenges that created for vendors, for healthcare providers, for publishers, and for HIMSS.

What once were "management systems" had evolved into true "enterprise" systems incorporating clinical support tools beyond what could have been imagined just 10 years ago. Physician and clinician executives joined the decision-making team, along with their IT (healthcare information) and administration (management systems) counterparts. The HIMSS Physicians' IT and Nursing Informatics Symposia, both held Sunday Feb. 22, in Orlando, are examples of efforts by HIMSS to address the many IT challenges clinicians face today.

And what once was primarily the province of acute care facilities now also extends far beyond hospital walls, as links with physicians, patients, outpatient care settings, and healthcare payers create opportunities for seamless intelligence across the healthcare enterprise and a permanent electronic patient record that travels across systems, disciplines, and countless IT hurdles.

The HL7-IHE Interoperability Demonstration Area at the 2004 Annual HIMSS Conference & Exhibition shows how standards are finally making true interoperability possible and presents the current state of the art.

These industry changes led HIMSS to wish to communicate with a broader audience, in a more compelling, timely and engaging environment, now that healthcare IT has become such a focal point for a wide range of healthcare executives.

These changes also suggested a need for an entirely new kind of publication - with appeal to, but also far beyond, the traditional confines of healthcare IT management - an all-news service, in print, online, and in e-mail, that tracks the fast-paced healthcare IT industry with a "just the facts" approach more like a daily newspaper than a monthly magazine.

What started with a few questions over lunch soon became a mission, and in the course of that, I became enormously fond of Steve Lieber and his team at HIMSS who bring such extraordinary dedication to their task of bettering healthcare through the betterment of information technology and management systems. They are, for this publication, the perfect partner.

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