Realizing a Learning Health System: Engaging Your HIMSS15 Experience to Transform Health

by: Jon Mertz, chair of the HIMSS Social Media Task Force

The HIMSS Annual Conference & Exhibition is an opportunity to learn about health information technology, patient engagement, trends in standards and regulations, and much more. A community gathers to share experiences and gain insights in the important work of delivering high quality care in a cost-effective way.

Enter in the learning health system. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) defines it as “one in which progress in science, informatics, and care culture align to generate new knowledge as an ongoing, natural by-product of the care experience, and seamlessly refine and deliver best practices for continuous improvement in health and health care.”

The HIMSS conference is an excellent way to engage and develop a learning health system. Recently, I had an opportunity to interview someone very involved in this initiative, Joshua C. Rubin, JD, MBA, MPH, MPP, Program Officer for Learning Health System Initiatives at the University of Michigan Medical School, Department of Learning Health Sciences. Read our full interview in the HIMSS Resource Library – Realizing a Learning Health System: Engaging Your HIMSS15 Experience to Transform Health.

As we prepare for HIMSS, keeping the learning health system initiative in mind is important. This is the big initiative that is necessary to continue to change the way we deliver and engage patient care. All our efforts fit under the learning health system umbrella, and our diligent effort will keep it moving forward, always improving our health and care.

From my interview with Joshua Rubin, here are five ways to embrace the learning health system initiative during and after the HIMSS conference.

#1 – After an educational session, discuss the topic with others before the end of the day.

It is easy to go from educational session to educational session and never have an opportunity to go deeper with someone else on the topic. Whether it is at a reception, a break, or standing in line to get another cup of coffee, start a conversation about what you heard and ask someone what they think about it. Learning happens by listening to experts, thinking it through, sharing an experience, and asking questions of others. Through this all, we enhance our learning and spark new ways to improve what we do in the support of patient care. Take advantage of the Block Party at HIMSS15 to meet colleagues.

#2 – During the conference, discuss an important health IT topic with someone out of your usual circle of colleagues. Gain a new perspective from an older or younger generation.

At large events, we may be inclined to stay close to our comfort zone of people. Many good conversations can happen within our circle of friends and colleagues but more challenging conversations can happen with people we do not know. Gaining a different perspective will engage our thought processes more, startling us to a new realization or idea.

Similarly, we need to reach out to people who are younger and older than us. The cross-generational conversations can be some of the most engaging ones, learning from experiences and fresh perspectives.

#3 – Identify at least three things that can be done differently in your organization to enhance care, improve operations, and enable greater patient engagement.

Learning is about more than just thinking. Putting what you learn into action creates added learning and, most importantly, begins tractions forward in implementing new systems, workflows, and more. Take notes during HIMSS and, after you are safely home, select three things to do differently and craft a plan to begin to implement them.

#4 – Personalize it. What one thing can you do differently?

We are all patients or take care of patients at some point in time. What one thing could we do differently, especially as we listen to the patient engagement stories at HIMSS? Health literacy is a key element to achieving a learning health system, and we need to put one individual action to work in the place we have the most control.

#5 – Determine how you can be a “ripple of health” and share what you learned in your social networks and organization once you return.

For a learning health system to really take hold, Joshua Rubin is right; it takes ripples. As he stated, “…every health experience of every patient can, in principle, instead of being locked in a data silo, become a ripple of heath. And in a culture conducive to the synergistic fusion of many of these emanating ripples of health, we can unleash powerful and persistent currents of transformation, catalyzed by the experiences of every person.”

Social channels can produce that ripple. Where comfortable, share your insights and experiences. Where comfortable, identify a healthy conversation to start. Comfort is necessary for privacy sake. At times and when ready, we may need to engage the tension of our situation and start that healthy ripple of change.

HIMSS Is a Starting Point

The learning health system is a continuous flow with needed crescendos to gain positive results and impacts. The HIMSS15 conference is not an end point, but it can be a good starting point to engage in what it takes to realize a learning health system.

Let’s use HIMSS conference as a jumping point to do things differently to enhance our support and engagement in delivering patient care. Are you ready?

About John Sharp, MSSA, PMP, FHIMSS

Senior Manager for Consumer Health IT at HIMSS.
This entry was posted in Blogging, Patient Engagement and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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