Sharon D. Davis, PMP, CPHIMS, is a health IT project manager in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, with over 13 years of experience in implementing health IT applications and technologies for healthcare providers and vendors. Davis is the chair of HIMSS Chapter Advocacy Roundtable (CAR), and the vice-chair of the HIMSS Chapter Advocacy Roundtable Recognition Program. She lives in Plano, Texas with her husband and two children.
HIMSS: How did you become involved with HIMSS?
Davis: I became involved with HIMSS after I observed first-hand with my family how the right health- care information in the right hands at the right time can save lives. I also saw how not having critical healthcare information can take lives. My HIMSS career started in Dallas-Fort Worth, where I served as vice president of professional development, and was president, of the Dallas-Fort Worth chapter (DFW) from 2008-2009. During my tenure, the DFW HIMSS board of directors, with the Austin and South Texas HIMSS boards of directors, were awarded the Spirit of HIMSS Award in February 2009.
I was invited to join the CAR as the Southern vice chair in 2009, as a result of my collaboration with the other Texas HIMSS chapters to implement the 2009 Texas health IT day. The Texas Health IT Day is an event where Texas HIMSS chapters, with other local chapters of health IT organizations such as the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) and the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA), assembled at the state capital, Austin, to talk with legislators about health IT. We also presented a half-day seminar about healthcare topics important to Texas, such as telemedicine and electronic health record use. I became the HIMSS CAR chair in 2012.
HIMSS: What has been the most rewarding aspect of your involvement with HIMSS?
Davis: To me, the most rewarding aspect of being involved with HIMSS is meeting and working with so many talented and dedicated HIMSS volunteers and staff. I have learned a great deal from just interacting with them, and what I have learned has greatly benefited my career. Improving healthcare using information technology will be a long and challenging road; but it is not an insurmountable task. Working with HIMSS volunteers and staff gives me confidence we will be successful, and everyone will benefit as a result.
HIMSS: Please describe some of the milestone events in your career.
Davis: Throughout my career, I have had several successful implementations of EHR elements (physician portals, pathology data integration, billing applications, business intelligence and more) in various locations across the country. It is always great to hear how a healthcare process has been improved as a result of my teams’ work. When I learn we have saved time, money or helped a specific patient, it encourages me to continue to manage projects in the health care industry. Receiving my Certified Professional in Healthcare Information & Management Systems (CPHIMS) certification in 2005 was a great way to declare to the industry that I have the experience, skills and talent to make a difference in health IT.
HIMSS: What do you hope to accomplish as the chair of the HIMSS CAR?
Davis: For my last year as the CAR chair, I wish to focus our team on integrating CAR events in the everyday calendars of their respective HIMSS chapters. I believe there are opportunities missed during the year to reach out to legislators when they are not in session. In addition, we will be focusing on encouraging the use of technology to get our message across. This will be very beneficial, especially to smaller and more scattered chapters, in communicating with legislators, chapter members, and other interested organizations. Finally, we want to utilize data to help get our messages across to legislators; I have seen many times how legislators and their staff show more interest in our message when we show how their state or region compares with others on a given topic.
HIMSS: What are some of the greatest challenges your group faces?
Davis: I think our greatest challenge is still to encourage chapters who have never hosted legislative events before to take those first steps towards doing so. Every state legislature is different, and it is very important that research into a given states’ laws, rules and processes is performed before advocacy activity is conducted. Once a chapter knows what those items are and reaches out to their legislators, they are usually pleasantly surprised how receptive the legislators are to expert and independent health IT information.
HIMSS: What are your plans for NHIT Week?
Davis: On Wednesday, in addition to hosting the half day CAR offsite, I plan to attend the HIMSS Policy Summit Opening Luncheon, the National Health IT Week Networking and Awards Reception. On Thursday, I plan to attend the HIMSS Policy Summit Breakfast Briefing, the HIMSS Policy Summit education and training and visit with Texas-based legislators and their staff to speak to them regarding health IT. All in all, I expect to have a few very busy days.
HIMSS: What are some of the most notable changes you’ve seen in the field of health IT over the course of your career?
Davis: I think the most significant change is the acceptance of healthcare information technology by patients and physicians. Patients are relying more on the Internet for information regarding wellness, illnesses, physicians and hospitals to support their healthcare. With respect to physicians, only a few years ago, physician acceptance of online applications and electronic devices was an uphill battle, and we still have a way to go, but due to acceptance of technology in their personal lives, encouragement from hospital leadership, and patient expectations; physician acceptance of electronic devices, electronic medical records and enterprise practice management applications have improved a great deal.
Also, the move of big data into the clinical space, providing reporting and decision support capabilities the clinical space did not have before. Previously, providers had to rely on their own knowledge or otherwise manually obtained research for insight into clinical performance.
HIMSS: What advice would you give professionals just entering the healthcare or IT field?
Davis: I would definitely recommend joining local branches of national organizations, such as HIMSS or Project Management Institute (PMI). But it is not enough to just join; to get your return on investment, you must volunteer to participate in activities, committees and special interest groups. That is where the true networking and understanding of the industry comes into play. Choose a subject that resonates with you; it will be easier to engage in an activity, if you have a passion for it. Also, look to your local community colleges; many of them are now offering health IT courses at reasonable prices.