Steve Huffman, CIO at Memorial Health System of South Bend, provides his annual rundown of the CHIME Fall Forum, including what he found to be most valuable, the acts that should be given the axe, and what more CIOs need to be doing. To follow him on Twitter, click here.
Tuesday (Day 0.5)
CHIME has done a nice job coordinating a Day 1 mixer as well as a giving-back opportunity. I heard great things about both, and I would encourage many of the CIOs who didn’t participate in either to fly in a little earlier next year and spend time giving back to the community that is hosting our conference.
The welcome reception was fine — great food, good drinks and connecting with friends is always a treat. Gone are the days of trying to force us to affiliate with the type of institutions we are so we were free to connect with old friends. I still think setting aside time for large products — Epic, Cerner, Allscripts, Siemens, etc. — without having the vendors in the room would be a fun reception activity to help get us connected with CIOs using our same products.
Wednesday (Day 1)
Drex DeFord kicked things off. His energy and laid back attitude are refreshing and real. He is an outstanding leader and really energizes the crowd.
Ted Koppel was our opening keynote, which seemed a little odd, but he dazzled us with his knowledge of current and historical events he has covered. What surprised me a bit was he didn’t lean into healthcare at all and we didn’t ask him any healthcare related questions. He outlined the implications of unintended consequences related to foreign policy; I can make the parallel to healthcare and the unintended consequences that we create when moving to electronic systems.
Track sessions and focus groups were all fine — good information and engaging conversations, but nothing tremendously earth shattering. We are at a point of ramping up for Meaningful Use Stage 2 and preparing for ICD-10 and tend to hear the same information from so many conferences or vendors. Sessions on leadership and what a CIO to stay fresh should be doing felt more lively.
Dr. Farzad Mastashari did a great job underlining his practical reasons for Stage 2 and trying to get us to take our jobs personally and hold everyone accountable. I get the sense he is a great leader to work for, and we are all grateful for his energy and enthusiasm.
The evening entertainment, outside of the foundation dinners if you participated, was a visit from two gold medalists from the US Olympic Volleyball team. When trying to communicate what the highlights of my conference were back at my organization, I really don’t need a flashy celebrity event hanging out there to invite the question of, “Really? That’s what you do at those conferences?” There is also something about that location that always gets someone into the pool. Unfortunately, by accident again this year, we had one of our peers hit the pool. This was less than the last time we were in Palm Springs, but still not good. (Our friend who took a dip was fine, although highly embarrassed.)
Thursday (Day 2)
Dr. Eric Topol kicked things off with an amazing array of new gadgets and apps that, if adopted much quicker than the stethoscope was, could prove beneficial in bending the cost curve and engaging patients. I’m always excited when I see presentations like this, but I’m left wondering how much these will help some of our sickest patients that are technologically challenged, emotionally impaired, or economically depressed. Getting smartphones to the most expensive utilizers of our healthcare institutions will be as big of a challenge, or more, as getting apps adopted by docs.
What did stick out to me was Dr. Topol’s comment about getting great information from Twitter. Despite all the eye rolling I get when I mention how Twitter really is a great tool, I would encourage my counterparts to jump in the Twitter pool. I stay connected with many CHIME CIOs, sharing information, articles, and humor while also getting information from the media and from patients who are demanding changes in health care.
Our friends from the ONC and CMS attended the plenary session on Thursday evening; they have clearly worked together long enough that they’ve created a mini-road show. They play off each other, almost reading one another’s minds, and are deeply knowledgable. I’m not sure we have all of the answers we need for Stage 2, but I feel better knowing that Farzad and his team aren’t trying to push us over a cliff. They have all good intentions in mind for the patient and are considering the myriad stakeholders in their decision making.
The evening reception was great with comedian Don McMillan, an outstanding act that could not have been better for the audience. Foundation firms seemed to show up in force on Thursday — perhaps they were making up for lost ground earlier in the week. This is a tough balance with CHIME as their foundation members grow (now 98). At times it felt like I was a trapped mouse on Thursday. I love the exposure we get to the foundation firm executives and I know they have to justify their fee to CHIME, but it felt “sales-y” for the first time.
Friday (Day 3)
The disadvantage of holding a conference in Palm Springs is the amount of CHIME members that have to jump on early flights to get back at reasonable times. Attendance for the awards session was pretty slim. It was a great idea to have the top rated track sessions replayed — this must be repeated in years to come. Unfortunately, I had to fly out early before hearing Adam Savage, but due to Twitter and my twitter partner CIOs, I was able to share in the discussion in real time.
All in all, CHIME pulled off a great event to cap off a very successful 20 years. Congratulations to CHIME, and hope to see you all next year in Phoenix.