At last year’s annual HIMSS conference, I had the pleasure of experiencing Bill Clinton’s keynote speech in New Orleans, which I wrote about here. As a long-time member of HIMSS, this was a great moment in my many years attending HIMSS conferences.
Another special moment in HIMSS conference history happened today, as, I had the honor of attending Hillary Clinton’s keynote speech at HIMSS 2014 in Orlando today. I am blessed with fast-typing fingers thanks to my mother’s genes, and took constant notes during Hillary’s talk. My favorite paragraphs are quoted below, indicating “Applause” pauses where Hillary was lauded.
Hillary received standing ovations as she walked onto the stage, and at the end of her hour with us. The Valencia Ballroom in the Orange County Convention Center was standing room only where 20,000+ people sat. Others spilled over into spaces outside of the Ballroom.
Enjoy these remarks, and know that Hillary never admits to planning to run for President of the United States. Not that Steven Lieber, the head of HIMSS, didn’t try to trap her once or twice!
Thank you for putting the best information technology to work. It is odd for me to be up here….you know so much about the issue to be discussed today and subject of this conference. You know, we are seeing remarkable advances in medical tech…innovative ways of thinking how we deliver care..and how to implement the ACA. Your focus on health IT is such a big part of how this story ends. Right now we know that IT is helping to increase efficiency and save money and improve quality of care and that HIMSS and you have been doing this for more than half a century. It must feel a little bit gratifying for you to see the debate catch up with where you have been. (Applause)
For me it is reassuring that we can make progress together driven by innovation and creativity.
When I got to the senate one of my goals was to promote EHRs. I teamed up with Newt Gingrich and Bill Frist to spread the word about health IT. Bill Frist and I worked on legislation in the Senate. It was a commonsense idea that I thought everybody should agree on. Today thanks to legislation that has been passed and implemented over the years and new technology, we are finally seeing the promise of EHRs, leaving behind the outdated obsolete 20th century — in some cases, 19th and 18th century – ways records were kept.
I’m also pleased that because of the Stimulus Package, the money from the Federal government was made available to start moving this information technology revolution across our country to make it possible no matter where you lived or what your problems were, you would be cared for because those caring for you would have access to your medical history. That is the power of EHRs.
I saw that first-hand in a terrible situation when I went down to meet with survivors and refugees from Katrina which destroyed millions of pages of medical records. People were totaly bewildered. I met with a large group who sought refuge….so many people, particularly elderly and frail people, didn’t know what meds they were taking. They had no way of explaining what that little blue pill was. Those who had EMRs from drugstore chains could give that information over to get access for those caring for people on a temporary basis.
None of this is possible without the right infrastructure or attitude.
Technology specialists are no longer focusing solely on making patient data accessible to providers. You’re now playing a leading role in making sure medical teams have the data that can be used to yield new insights and efficiencies.
I am a believer in the idea that good data helps to make good decisions. It’s true in life.
It’s important to be guided by evidence about what works and what doesn’t…not ideology or personally held beliefs.
Unfortunatley we’ve seen too often in Washington recently that many of our public debates take place in an evidence-free zone. (Applause) That is bad news for anyone who wants to get something done who would rather choose common ground over scorched earth. (Applause)
For example, the hyper politicized debate from the beginning has been often more about ideology than about data and what we can learn. The scare tactics have not necessarily helped us understand how best to improve care, lower costs, expand coverage…but to keep what works at the same time. That’s why we need what you’re doing so badly. To get back to evidence based policy debates. And to use that when we need to fix things.
We need more transparency in our health care system…we need to drive improvements in health IT…to make it easier to get data on how much treatments cost so providers, payers and consumers can make better, more informed decisions.
But if things aren’t working, we need people of good faith to come together and make evidence based changes. That’s what I hope you can help us do.
I think that is one of the great missions that anyone can be part of. Becuase of your focus on innovation HIMSS is in a position to help us see over the horizon.
Ultimately, how might we replace once and for all our fee for service model with provider-led community wide care that can compete on quality, value over volume? (Applause)
After everything I have seen and learned around the world, my faith in this country is deeper than ever. Yes, we have challenges ahead of us. It will take us working together to solve those problems. We will have to be willing to work with people we don’t agree with…even political beliefs. That is one of our great strengths.
I want to see us have a debate where our differences are fully aired. We don’t have one size fits all; our country is quite diverse. What works in New York City won’t work in Albuquerque. We have to have people looking for common ways of approaching problems using evidence, but leaving their gaming, blaming and shaming, and their point scoring, at the door. (Applause)
We are pragmatic people. The best explanation was written in 1920s by Alexis DeTocqueville who traveled around observing this new phenomenon, this new United States, these new people called Americans. Lots of places were grander and richer…yet what did he say we have that he found unique? He said we were distinguished by the habits of our hearts. What did he mean by that? He meant that we worked with one another. In those days it might have been putting up a barn for a farmer who lost his to a fire. Or forming a volunteer police or fire department, or starting the first hospital.
So as I said at the beginning, I was delighted to be invited because I wanted to thank you. You have continued on a path that I have made a few small footprints on. You will help the rest of us have the kind of quality health care that every human being deserves.