Avid readers of this blog recognize that I’m not an expert in health information technology at the individual operator level. I see myself as an interpreter, someone who is able to span the bridge between the software writers and users of clinical information. Therefore, I was particularly pleased to deliver the opening plenary at the AMIA iHealth 2017 Clinical Informatics Conference right in my own backyard at the beautiful Loews Philadelphia Hotel – about 4 blocks from our college. The more than 250 registrants were experts in data gathering, predictive analytics, and the research community that also participates in this work. I was lucky too, to spend some private time with their charismatic President and CEO, Douglas Fridsma, MD, PhD, FACP, FACMI, a longstanding national figure in this field.
My plenary presentation focused on how data is central to operationalizing the core tenets of population health. I reinforced the need for interconnectivity across each of the delivery sites in our disconnected system. A patient registry closes the feedback loop with clinicians and enables a primary care doctor, just like me, to answer the daily important question, namely, “how am I doing in the care of the population of patients for whom I am responsible?”
Judging by the score of persons who waited patiently to ask questions at the conclusion of my comments and the activity on social media, I would say the talk was very well received. It was great to see the enthusiasm that these experts had for the notion that social determinants drive the health of a population. It strengthened my resolve to work closely with our information technology colleagues as we hope to introduce a program in our college in population health intelligence in the future. In the meantime, we salute AMiA and their leadership in this burgeoning field.