Those of you who followed my blogs this week from HIMSS11 know that I've been on a soapbox about making sure that clinical IT is just that, clinical. So many of the conversations I had in Orlando centered not on meaningful use or CPOE or ICD-10, but on making sure that all of those applications are used to provide clinicians with timely and actionable information. For instance, let's assume your hospital has a poor record in a specific DRG, maybe length of stay for that condition is abnormally long. Jonathan Elion, M.D., suggests that a robust computer system should alert nurse managers the minute any patient with that DRG is admitted to the hospital. That nugget of information should provide clinicians with the urgency to develop a proper treatment plan and, hopefully improve performance for that DRG, said Elion, founder of ChartWise, a clinical documentation vendor. Because the fact is, changes in reimbursement are going to hold providers much more accountable for the care they provide. Whether it is value-based purchasing or bundled payments or accountable care organizations, hospital dollars will be more at risk. That sentiment was echoed time and time again this week.

C. Martin Harris, M.D., chief information officer at the Cleveland Clinic and HIMSS board chair, talked to me about the importance of going beyond meeting the letter of law and instead focusing on the broader intent of meaningful use and the Affordable Care Act: to deliver high quality, patient-centered care. In essence, hospital executives need to come to terms with the new value equation.

But if hospitals are going to be successful in deploying health IT, then the technology has to be something clinicians actually want to use, and use appropriately. You've certainly heard the complaints before: the technology solution you just installed doesn't work right. Or, more to the point, it doesn't work the way docs and nurses want it to. One of the concerns I kept hearing this week from docs is that they aren't involved in designing the products they are supposed to be using to improve patient care. Some vendors are trying to address this by engaging clinicians in early stages of product development. I spoke about this with Angie Franks, president and CEO of Healthland, which provides solutions to the rural market.

There were so many other topics that came up during the week: privacy and security, health information exchange, ICD-10, and the list goes on and we'll be covering those topics in the coming weeks and months both here on H&HN Daily and in the print magazine. But before we go, here's a little sample of what things were like on the HIMSS exhibit floor. There were more than 1,000 vendors. Some had mansion-sized booths; others opted for artists, cars, clowns or magicians to draw a crowd.