Live from HIMSS12: ICD-10, Meaningful Use & Social Media

There has been a lot of buzz around two pieces of news –in one case, lack of news—in the past week. Last Thursday, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius responded to heavy pressure from the American Medical Association and announced a delay to the ICD-10 implementation deadline, currently set for October 2013.

Meanwhile, the health IT universe continues to wait with baited breath for Sebelius and/or leadership at CMS or ONC to publish the proposed regulations for Stage 2 of the “meaningful use” EHR incentive program. The proposal was supposed to have been out before 35,000 or so health IT industry types descended on Las Vegas for HIMSS12, but it was not to be. As with any major federal rule-making, the White House’s Office of Management and Budget has to vet every word, so it is out of Sebelius’ hands for the moment.

Rumors spreading through the Sands Expo Center and the adjacent Venetian and Palazzo hotels have pegged Wednesday or Thursday for the release date, since national health IT coordinator Dr. Farzad Mostashari is leading a session on Stage 2 meaningful use with other ONC and CMS representatives Wednesday morning, then delivering a keynote address the following day.

In the wake of the ICD-10 bombshell last week, HIMSS itself and other IT-related groups are telling their membership and anyone else who will listen not to slack off when it comes to ICD-10 preparedness. HIMSS CEO Steve Lieber noted in his annual press conference Tuesday that the official HHS statement said the department would “initiate a process to postpone the date by which certain healthcare entities” must meet the requirements. That, to Lieber, suggests the possibility of a delay for physician practices or perhaps small hospitals, but not for larger organizations.

Indeed, HIMSS on Tuesday released a survey of hospital CIOs showing that 89 percent expect to be ready for ICD-10 by the current deadline of Oct. 1, 2013.

Regulations aside, social media is a big deal at HIMSS12. Monday, pediatrician-blogger-author Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson, a.k.a. Seattle Mama Doc, excited the pre-conference CIO Forum by showing how social media can help doctors keep up with medical knowledge in a culture where the public and media are often discussing new medical research before practicing physicians hear about the discoveries.

“The more knowledgeable a physician is, the less likely they are to explain what they know on national television,” Swanson said. She started her blog at Seattle Children’s Hospital to help reassure parents of her patients about the safety of childhood immunizations after actress Jenny McCarthy went on the “Oprah Winfrey Show” to argue against vaccinating youngsters. Swanson has applied social media to refute what she called irresponsible statements from the controversial but popular Dr. Mehmet Oz, too.

“We’ve got to be far more careful,” Swanson said. She since has embraced Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and physician network Doximity, as well as YouTube. She uses the latter to post short, one-minute videos to educate parents and her adolescent patients rather than merely giving verbal instructions that people will forget as soon as they leave the doctor’s office.

Swanson is a bit of a social media star, but certainly not as widely known as the opening keynote speaker at HIMSS 12, namely Twitter co-founder Biz Stone.

Stone predicted that wearable health technology will become commonplace in the near future as consumers take a greater interest in their own care. He referenced FitBit—more fitness than healthcare, really, but who’s counting—perhaps providing the opportunity for people who know better to take a cue from Swanson and set the record straight via, say, this blog post?

Stone advised innovators to do a better job designing their technology to “degrade gracefully” so things become more accessible to poorer populations once more wealthy people have moved on to something more advanced. He also urged the HIMSS12 audience to take chances.

“To succeed spectacularly, you need to be willing to fail spectacularly,” Stone said. His words echoed those of former Apple CEO John Sculley.

Last month at the Digital Health Summit at 2012 International CES—also in Las Vegas—Sculley said that Americans usually are more than willing to give second and third chances. “Failure doesn’t mean you’re finished. It means you have to pick yourself up and start again,” said Sculley, himself the architect of one of the greatest failures in tech history when he ignored Steve Jobs’ advice to pull the plug on the Apple II computer in favor of an up-and-coming product called Macintosh.