Saturday, December 29, 2012

Annual Reflections at the End of 2012

It has been somewhat of a tradition for me with this blog to post a reflection at the end of each year. I did so in 2009, 2010, and 2011. So here goes for 2012.

I am pleased at the success of this blog, closing in on 90,000 page views and having 315 followers (as I write this). Of course, the success is not really a matter of page views and followers, but rather the substantive knowledge and insights that the blog contributes. To that end, I am pleased that others re-post, tweet, and/or respond to some of my postings. This also reinforces my decision to not post every train of thought, but rather to only do so when I believe I have something important to say. This is my 40th post of 2012. That is the most postings for any of my four years, but still reflecting my decision only to write when I have something I consider meaningful to say, and not just posting because I feel like I must on a given day.

This past year has been another successful one for myself and the field. Much of it, of course, revolves around work related to the HITECH Act, which has defined the last few years of our informatics careers for many of us in the field. The coming year will mark a transformation, as least for me, as the major ONC projects that have consumed much of our time and thinking will be drawing to a close. The curriculum project is already winding down, as we transition from a development role to a support role, with ONC funding slated to cease at the end of March. As noted in a recent update on the project, I do hope there will be a way to sustain the updating and enhancement of the curriculum. At this time, however, there is no funding source that has been identified to do that. By the same token, the University-Based Training (UBT) program is also starting to wind down. While we will have students wending their way through their UBT program studies for most of 2013, the funding for this project will be completed by next year at this time.

Of course, I did accomplish a great deal more in 2012 than just efforts related to HITECH. The department I lead at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), the Department of Medical Informatics & Clinical Epidemiology, continues to thrive, with the renewal of our evidence-based practice center as well as several new informatics-related grants and projects. Student enrollment in our informatics educational program above and beyond UBT remains strong. I am grateful to have a position that allows me to provide leadership and vision while still enabling me to pursue my own intellectual activities in teaching and research.

On a personal level, this year saw a number of accomplishments. Here are some of the accolades and achievements of 2012:
Despite the winding down of the major HITECH infrastructure investments over the next year (or in some cases, but not in the workforce program, more), there is much interesting and important work yet to come. Now that HITECH has established the foundation of data in healthcare organizations, we will hopefully be able to start doing important things with that data, such as improving health and healthcare delivery. Informatics professionals, some certified in new specializations (not only physicians), will provide the leadership to facilitation the collection, analysis, and use of the that data. New technologies will also continue to provide excitement, but we must never lose sight of the purpose of our primary role in informatics, which is to put that data, information, and knowledge to optimal use for individuals and society.

Let me close this posting by noting that anyone and everyone can also contribute to the Department of Medical Informatics & Clinical Epidemiology. We launched a major philanthropic drive this year, and any support you are willing to give will greatly help our current and future programs. I hope you will consider a gift to our program on our department giving page.

In the meantime, I look forward to another exciting year for informatics and this blog in 2013, and wish everyone a healthy and happy New Year.

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