Every time I tell someone I’m from New Jersey, I pause and wait for it. The joke, snarky comment, or insult that often follows.
Maybe it’s about the mafia (specifically in reference to the Sopranos, an excellent show that happened to take place in the Garden State).
Maybe it’s about playing redheaded stepchild to New York City.
Maybe — and this is the worst one — it’s in reference to an unfortunate reality show that destroyed nearly any semblance of dignity my state once had.
Or maybe it’s something different altogether (BridgeGate, pollution, political scandals, being the most densely populated state, etc.), but there’s always a snarky comment. If you’re from NJ or if you live here, you know it’s just part of the deal. And here’s the thing about people from New Jersey — we may have a reputation for being loud, opinionated, and even crass at times; but we’re also genuine. We say what we mean, and we mean what we say. And there are other positives:
- Our beaches are beautiful.
- Baseball – America’s pastime – was invented here.
- The lightbulb you use every day? It originated here.
- It’s the birthplace of Frank Sinatra, Meryl Streep, Bruce Springsteen, Jack Nicholson, Danny DeVito, Carl Lewis, Shaquille O’Neal, Whitney Houston, and (of course) James Gandolfini.
We have a lot to be proud of, and one of those things is the annual NJ HIMSS/Delaware Valley HIMSS Conference. Last week, leaders from health systems, vendors, payers, and other organizations gathered in Atlantic City to discuss industry trends, share best practices, and network with colleagues. And, as always, this year’s event didn’t disappoint.
Here are some of the highlights from the keynote addresses:
- In the opening keynote, Terri Steinberg, CHIO at Christiana Care Health System, broke down population health into three main components: technology, analytics, and care coordination. She focused mostly on the latter, noting that care coordination is “the glue that holds population health together between visits,” and emphasized the importance of taking the focus off episodic care. Steinberg’s most powerful points came when she referred to her own experience as a clinician, urging leaders to leverage physicians’ competitive natures by using dashboards to show results, and to align payment and performance incentives to make sure docs are “rowing in the same direction.”
- As much as it pains me to admit it, I genuinely enjoyed hearing from former Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver (and current radio broadcaster) Mike Quick, who talked about the valuable lessons he has learned about teamwork, resilience, and humility, both as a player and commentator). He urged attendees to examine what drives them by asking, “What is your why?” And although he got in a few digs at my hapless NY Giants, I still appreciated the perspective of someone who has navigated the ups and downs of a professional career and can speak about it eloquently.
- Finally, John Glaser, SVP of Population Health with Cerner, spoke about the fundamental forces that he believes will shape the future direction of health IT, focusing on the dramatic shift in healthcare’s business model, and the major leaps in technology that are changing the way care is practiced. And although much of his discussion was focused on what he has learned both in his role with Cerner and during his many years with Partners HealthCare, I enjoyed most hearing about the 11 months he spent as a senior advisor with ONC when HITECH was being ironed out. Glaser offered a candid look into how IT legislation is pushed forward, and what he believes are the keys to success for health system CIOs.
There were also a number of educational sessions focusing on topics ranging from cloud-hosted solutions to telemedicine to patient engagement, and plenty of opportunities to meet new people and catch up with old friends.
And to me, that’s where the biggest value always comes; in having facetime (not to be confused with FaceTime) with people I’ve gotten to know over the years — and discussing not just about what’s going on at work, but what’s happening in their lives. I consider people like Glenn Mamary, Judy Comitto, Neal Ganguly, Joe Carr, Dan Morreale and, of course, Tony Ferranti, to be part of my NJ HIMSS family, and I appreciated the chance to be reunited with them.
I’m confident they’ll be many more, because, as Tony Soprano once said, “Once you’re in this family, there’s no getting out.”