Informatics Summit: Technological Transformation for Healthcare

By Sharief Taraman, M.D., pediatric neurologist at CHOC Children’s

“That it will ever come into general use, notwithstanding its value, is extremely doubtful; because its beneficial application requires much time and gives a good bit of trouble both to the patient and the practitioner; because its hue and character are foreign and opposed to all our habits and associations.” – The London Times

No, this is not a quote about the electronic health record; rather, it is from 1834 and about the stethoscope. So, imagine how incredulous the newspaper would have been about the topics discussed earlier this month at the Health Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Southern California Chapter’s “Adventures in Clinical Informatics” Summit held May 3 at CHOC Children’s Hospital.

Sharief Taraman, M.D.
Sharief Taraman, M.D.

Healthcare is on the verge of an exciting technological transformation, particularly with the widespread implementation of electronic health records (EHR).  Dr. Steven Simpson, from the University of Kansas, opened the summit by sharing how the EHR was leveraged to identify and treat sepsis. The EHR algorithm markedly reduced the mortality rate related to sepsis, and, if applied nationwide, will save more than 100,000 lives per year.

Jerry Fahrni, PharmD, from Talyst shared with attendees about pharmacy automation and advancements in mobile health. A recent Pew Internet survey found half of all smartphone owners use their devices to get health information and one-fifth of smartphone owners have health apps. Eighty percent of cell phone owners say they send and receive text messages, but just nine percent say they receive text updates or alerts about health or medical issues.

Healthcare providers have identified this underutilized ability to connect with patients, and numerous groups are developing solutions for this niche. Exciting advancements include products like Asthmapolis, a Bluetooth-enabled sensor that monitors inhaler usage by date, time and location, and provides information for improved patient care as well as population health data regarding inhaler usage at street level geolocation. With an estimated market of $5.6 billion by 2017, the mobile application sensor market is bound to yield many more exciting products that improve healthcare delivery and surveillance.

Dr. Bob Dolin, of Lantana Consulting Group, then tackled Meaningful Use, the standards defined by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Incentive Programs that govern the use of EHR and allow eligible providers and hospitals to earn incentive payments by meeting specific criteria.  His presentation focused on how the “big data, incrementally structured” philosophy is being operationalized.

Representatives from The Bill Holmes Tower at CHOC Children’s activation team also presented “Merging People, Processes and Technology to Create the New CHOC.” This talk highlighted the opening of emergency medicine, radiology, laboratory, pathology and surgical services in the Holmes Tower. As indicated by the talk’s title, technology was not the be all and end all of the new tower, but rather like the stethoscope: another tool to aid the medical field.

Also on the day’s docket was an advocacy session that took place with members of the California Assembly, as well as a closing keynote address from Willa Fields, RN, who shared her perspective of an HIMSS delegation to Israel.

This is the second consecutive year that CHOC has hosted the HIMSS Southern California Chapter Annual Clinical Informatics Summit and we look forward to hosting many more in the future.

Slides from the Summit are available here:

Another prominent conference is on CHOC’s horizon: From Oct. 3 through 5, CHOC will  host “Pediatrics 2040: Trends And Innovations for the Next 25 Years,”   a comprehensive three-day academic program at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa that focuses on emerging medical and technological advances and trends in the care of children in the coming era.  For more information, visit