State of the Union: AHRQ HIT Conference

As part of my arrival, I attended the annual Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s annual Health Information Technology Conference. As of this writing, the materials from the conference are being posted, so more should be available soon.

I read a review of this conference that characterized it as “interesting, yet confusing.” What I saw was continued nascency of this field. There are unfortunately many incentives that do not support the ideals that we have for health care information technology; much of the work done in that light shows progress.

Of course, I immediately drifted to one of the sessions discussing the use of LEAN (Toyota Management System) in healthcare. This was headlined by very well known organizations in the field, including Intermountain Healthcare, University of Pittsburgh, and Denver Health. I was interested in both the presentations and the people giving them as well as the audience. When I sit in a room like this, I always ask, “Is Art Byrne in here?” because he/she may very well be, given the right fuel and environmen. This is why I appreciate that AHRQ is funding work across a diverse group of health systems. One thing I noticed, though, was that there were people who knew six sigma really well, there were people who knew LEAN really well, there were people who knew the Chronic Care Model really well, but I was unsure that anyone knew all three together. There is so much passion for quality improvement – is there a standard method to do it?

Ted Eytan, MD