Federal Communications Commission

A Quick Update From The Biggest Gathering Of Health IT Professionals In The Country

March 2nd, 2010 by Pierce Grahm-Jones - Program Analyst, Digital Health Care (Omnibus Broadband Initiative)

Hello from the HIMSS Conference in Atlanta, the biggest gathering of health IT professionals in the country.

This morning, Dr. Mo – our digital healthcare director – gave the first comprehensive overview of the health care working recommendations in the National Broadband Plan. The session was well attended, something we had been nervous about with snow starting to fall in Atlanta! We were especially pleased to see folks in the audience who are current participants in the FCC’s Rural Health Care Program, as the Plan will recommend important changes to both the operating and capital components of the Program. If you missed the talk and want to know more about our recommendations, check out the presentation here. HIMSS should post a video of the conference sometime soon at the conference website.

We have also been spending time in one of the acres-wide exhibition halls, supporting the University of Virginia in setting up a demonstration of their stroke telehealth pilot. The pilot integrates care by using a full gambit of health IT – remote home monitors, EHRs, PACS, and high-res video consultations – to provide clot-busting drugs to patients in rural Virginia. It is an amazing example of what is already being done with these technologies. You can watch video of the demonstration here

Even more than what is currently being done, the overwhelming impression you get from being at this conference is how much is going to happen in health IT over the next couple of years. There are hundreds of companies here peddling their glossy-screened wares.  Everywhere you hear plans for achieving meaningful use, promoting interoperability, and unlocking the value of health data. None of these exciting goals has been accomplished today, but you get a sense that with the sort of investment represented in this conference, they are not far away.

For us on the Broadband team, the more than 20,000 people attending this conference just underscores the importance of broadband. But connectivity challenges have already slowed us down. Mark Rives, a member of our panel from the Indian Health Service, talked today about how over 90% of IHS locations have only been able to afford T1s, and how this has prevented them from deploying advanced health IT solutions. I’m glad the Broadband Plan gives us a chance to act now, before this becomes any more of a hindrance to such a promising space.

- Health Care Team

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