AMIA 2014

Monday, November 24, 2014

Last week, I had the pleasure of attending the AMIA Annual Symposium in Washington, DC. I’ve attended this meeting most years for the last 20 years, and it continues to be a great opportunity to learn about what’s new in medical informatics and to network with old and new friends and colleagues. The keynote address was given by Dr. Amy Abernethy, who discussed the importance of learning from the streams and rivers of healthcare data to make better and better decisions. She asserted that even after death, patients live on through their data, which can help other people.

On this blog I often write about health IT standards, which were the subject of a variety of AMIA sessions. In particular, there was a standing-room-only demonstration of SMART on FHIR, which is an architecture to create apps on top of electronic health records (EHRs). In this model, the EHR serves as a platform, on top of which people can develop apps. An example that was shown was an app that plots growth charts using pediatric age and weight data from the EHR. The data are exchanged using FHIR (Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources), which is a new draft standard from . (See my September post on FHIR here.)

Another session provided a summary of the ongoing work in the Clinical Quality Framework S&I Initiative, in which I myself am participating. This initiative seeks to harmonize clinical decision support (CDS) and clinical quality measurement (CQM) standards. FHIR is being considered here as well, as is a logical data model called QUICK (Quality Improvement and Clinical Knowledge), which could be viewed as a layer on top of FHIR that is more useful in authoring CDS and CQM rules. The rule expressions themselves would be written in an evolving new HL7 language called CQL (Clinical Quality Language).

I had the honor of moderating a panel on informatics careers in industry, along with my fellow panelists John Cai (Celgene), Elizabeth Chapman (VA), Steve Labkoff (IMO), Richard Tayrien (HCA), and Michael Weiner (IBM). We presented the results of a small survey we had conducted, in which we asked AMIA’s corporate members what was important to them in hiring informatics professionals. The sample size was small (n=15), but some of the key findings were the following:

  • Having an advanced clinical degree is important;
  • Experience in a healthcare setting is important;
  • Leadership experience is important;
  • Important types of informatics knowledge and skills included:
  • Knowledge representation
  • Machine learning and data mining
  • Project management skills

The panel discussed the importance of leadership qualities, communication skills, and working on projects of high value to the company. The panel also discussed the future role of the CMIO (Chief Medical Information/Informatics Officer), which is likely to continue to involve EHR usability, but will increasingly encompass data analytics, especially for Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs).

For those interested, next year’s AMIA Annual Symposium will be held November 14-18, 2015, in San Francisco, CA. I hope to see you there!

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