LIVE FROM HIMSS16: Attendance Slightly Lower, But Still at Near-Record Levels; HIMSS Leadership Survey Plumbs Issues Around Clinical Informatics, IT Compensation

Oct. 5, 2016
HIMSS leaders presented attendance figures and results from the annual HIMSS Leadership Survey to the media--including new results on clinical informatics and compensation--on Tuesday morning at HIMSS16

Attendance at HIMSS16 is down slightly from attendance at HIMSS15, but it remains at a near-record high. That was one of the first elements brought forward at the media briefing given to members of the press at the Sands Expo Convention Center in Las Vegas on the Tuesday morning of HIMSS. As of Monday night, HIMSS officials reported, HIMSS16 had logged 40,510 attendees (HIMSS15 final attendance figure was 43,043). Carla Smith, senior vice president of HIMSS (the Chicago-based Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society), presented the results of the annual HIMSS Leadership Survey, along with a panel of healthcare IT leaders, and also presented attendance figures Tuesday morning. She also noted that HIMSS16 had more than 1,200 exhibitors, 300 of them new, with a higher percentage of professional attendees (those unrelated to exhibitor organizations) than ever before, and double-digit increases in all c-suite professional titles.

With regard to the HIMSS Leadership Survey, Smith walked members of the press through a variety of numbers. According to the survey, the following were the top priorities stated by respondents: sustaining financial viability (86.9 percent); improving patient satisfaction: (84.4 percent) improving patient care and/or outcomes (83.0 percent); improving operational efficiency (72.7 percent); improving physician satisfaction (72.3 percent). Those results contrast with the results from a year ago (as released by the HIMSS organization and reported online by Healthcare Informatics), which were as follows: improving patient care satisfaction, and improving patient care/quality of care (87 percent); sustaining financial viability (85 percent); improving care coordination (76 percent); improving operational efficiency (72 percent); improving physician satisfaction (68 percent); achieving meaningful use (68 percent); and increasing market share (66 percent).

With regard to the financial issues pressing in on CIOs and other healthcare IT leaders, Don Reichert, vice president and CIO at The MetroHealth System in Cleveland, told Healthcare Informatics that the focus is understandable. “You need to increase your operating margin, so if you’re at 3 percent, how do you get to 5? Everyone’s focused on patient volume right now,” he told HCI. “That’s one side of the equation. The other side is managing your expenses. I’m on the service side of the organization. And how can I consolidate systems, and cut down on the duplication of effort? If clinicians have to go to five different screens and three different systems to access information, that is a problem.

On another front, considerable attention was paid by Smith and the members of the panel of healthcare IT leaders to findings from a new section of the survey regarding the presence of clinical IT leaders. Smith noted that only 36 percent of survey respondents said in 2012 that their organization had a CMIO; in 2016, that percentage has increased to 53 percent. And of those that do have a CMIO, 59 of respondents reported that the CMIO is on the executive team of their organization. Meanwhile, in 2012, only 9 percent of organizations had a CNIO; now in 2016, that percentage had increased to 18 percent. Interestingly, of those with a CNIO, 71 percent reported that their CNIO was on their organization’s executive team.

Among the senior healthcare IT leaders on the panel, Sharon Kirby, M.S., R.N.-B.C., vice president and chief nursing information officer at Denver’s Centura Health, told members of the press, “I’ve been in this position since 2012. We’ve implemented CPOE in all our facilities, and have implemented barcode meds administration, were subsequently awarded Stage 7 in all our hospitals. We very much believe in a paperless environment within our organization, and we’ve used that to leverage where we are today as far as winning our Davies Award this past year. I can say that from being the director of clinical informatics and then CNIO, my presence has had a profound impact on the way our organization operates. Obviously, when you move into a chief level and are in the c suite, things are looked at very differently,” she said. What’s more, she said, “People didn’t initially understand what a CNIO was, and some still don’t’ today—there was a lot of skepticism, and I had to define the role. My dyad partner is my CMIO, who is also a female, and we also work very closely together with our organization’s CIO. And that partnership between IT and clinical informatics has helped so much” to move the Centura organization forward on key organizational objectives.

Later, in response to a question from HCI about what CIOs should understand about the value of CNIOs, Kirby said, “That we can create that link and bring adoption. CIOs can try to implement all the health IT they want, but if you don’t have adoption, you have to have someone who can advocate to your end users, and someone who understands the workflow of end users. It won’t be safe and they won’t use it if it’s not integrated with workflow. My CMIO and I work very closely together. When we first started, we were in our won worlds, and she said something fascinating to me; she said, I never understood how much nurses know what doctors do but how little doctors know about what nurses do. Nurses understand informatics in pharmacy and lab.”

Thomas J. Selva, M.D., CMIO at the University of Missouri Health System, said, “What does it mean to be a CMIO? Many CMIOs are early in their role. The average, in fact, is three years. I’m four years into my role. My job as a CMIO is to be the voice of the clinicians who care for the patients. And you can’t do that when you’re deciding how the money is going to be spent.” As a result, he said, he has accepted that for a CMIO to truly advocate for physicians and other clinicians means that the CMIO will not at the same time be a core financial decision-maker in his or her organization, and he accepts that.

HIMSS’s Smith revealed that she herself is advocating a strong look at gender issues in healthcare IT executive compensation. She noted that as she and fellow HIMSS colleagues looked at the results of the organization’s biannual compensation survey, she noted what appeared to be strong gender-driven disparities. In fact, as she revealed to the press, further analysis found that there is “about a $25,000 compensation gap” between male and female healthcare IT executives. The average compensation for healthcare IT executives and senior managers, according to the association, is $126,000 for men, and $101,000 for women. In non-executive roles, she noted, women earn about 80 percent of what men earn. Over time, compensation increases for both genders; but non-executive women in healthcare IT never reach parity. For senior executive women in healthcare IT, in the first year in their position, they obtain 63 percent of what their male counterparts in the same position receive. And women must spend more than 15 years in healthcare IT to reach compensation parity. Meanwhile, only 14 percent of women in healthcare IT are in executive-level or senior management-level positions, while 21 percent of men are.

“What we will be doing from here,” Smith said, with regard to the compensation findings this year, “is that we’ll be going back through our biannual compensation survey and see what we can discern over time. We are also looking to look at data in additional ways. If we see gaps based on gender, do we see gaps based on ethnicity or race? We have not asked those questions, but for our next survey, we will be adding those questions. The point of sharing this information is, first of all, sunlight is a great disinfectant. We really encourage additional research and findings, so that we can all learn together and address issues.”

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