Patient and safety advocates a highlight at HIC2012

US-based patient advocate Regina Holliday will be a featured speaker at the upcoming Health Informatics Conference (HIC), being held in Sydney in late July.

Ms Holliday speaks regularly on the importance of co-ordination of care through sharing of health information, telling a personal story of losing her husband at an early age to highlight how greater access to healthcare information can assist patients in their healthcare journey.

Health Informatics Society of Australia (HISA) CEO Louise Schaper said Ms Holliday was one of the best public speakers she has ever seen, having once left the the US National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, Farzad Mostashari, speechless after listening to her story.

“He is the most important person when it comes to eHealth in the entire US, and he was just staring,” Dr Schaper said. “He opened his mouth a few times and nothing came out.”

(A short video of Ms Holliday recounting her husband's experience with the healthcare system and her struggle to get access to his medical record – which she believes may have helped make his death a less painful experience – is available on YouTube.)

Ms Holliday will also take part in one of HIC's annual Q&A panels, moderated by the ABC's Tony Jones, on the topic of “doing more for less and the importance of 'trusted' information”.

Also on the panel will be NEHTA CEO Peter Fleming, HISA board director and well-known consultant David Rowlands, and Scot Silverstein, an adjunct professor of health informatics at Drexel University in the US.

Dr Silverstein also has a personal story to tell that brings home the importance of what exactly is 'trusted' information. A qualified medical doctor and medical informatics researcher, Dr Silverstein is a strong advocate for safety in health IT systems, having been personally involved in what he believes was a case of medical misadventure caused by an electronic health record that resulted in harm to a close relative.

He will also deliver a keynote speech on the topic of improving health IT systems as a first step towards evidence-based medicine and better clinical outcomes.

Dr Silverstein told Pulse+IT that there is a “syndrome of over-confidence” in computer output that he finds puzzling.

“In other fields people, when they start getting incorrect bills or they keep coming and they can't stop them, it is always blamed on a computer system,” he said. “And yet in medicine, it seems to have evolved a culture around computing that machines in healthcare must deterministically create improvement and are purely beneficient and can't be capable of creating harm.

“It is a strange philosophy because in the same breath, people say healthcare information technology is capable of great benefit, that is a very powerful technology and when it is done well, it is. But anything that is a potential source for great good can also have a downside. There seems to be a cognitive gap in connecting computing in healthcare to its possible risk.”

Another Q&A panel, moderated by business consultant Margot Cairnes, will discuss how to build on research and evidence for immediate healthcare improvements. Panellists include foundation chair in medical informatics at the University of NSW, Enrico Coiera, AMA president Steve Hambleton, NEHTA's head of strategy John Zelcer, and professor of public health and community medicine at the University of Sydney, Stephen Leeder.

Dr Schaper said HIC will this year begin at 9am with a full three-day program, unlike previous years. “This year, because of the breadth of what we wanted to include, we have changed it completely so it starts at nine o'clock now and HIC proper will run Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday for the full three days,” she said. “The workshops are integrated into the program in a way that they never have been before.”

Day one will cover eHealth drivers and demand, day two will be dedicated to evidence and outcomes, and day three will cover future trends, she said. Themes will include safety, mobility and also the important role that large consulting firms are now playing in the development of healthcare policy.

Early bird registrations for HIC2012 close next Monday, June 4. The conference will be held at the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre from July 30 to August 2.

HIC2012 will be preceded by three satellite conferences: nursing informatics, indigenous informatics and digital hospital design, with an aged care informatics event incorporated into the main HIC program.

See the July issue of Pulse+IT magazine for a full preview of HIC2012.

Posted in Australian eHealth

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