Focused on Things that Matter in Digital Health

Recently, a colleague asked me to summarize how HIMSS’s presence has moved the needle related to our larger strategic objectives. I loved that question; it is another way of asking the question: “So what if HIMSS exists?”

First, let me define our larger strategic objectives. HIMSS North America’s intention is to achieve HIMSS’s vision of better health through IT. To do so, our strategic plan includes four multi-year goals:

1. Lead efforts to optimize health engagements and care outcomes using IT;

2. Ensure all stakeholders are engaged in the transformation of health and healthcare through the best use of IT and management systems;

3. Health policies of all stakeholder entities reflect transformational IT knowledge, experiences and best practices resulting in better health through the best use of IT; and,

4. Health stakeholders have the knowledge, tools, experiences and best practices to make optimal decisions regarding IT and management systems.


Now that we’ve set the stage by defining our larger strategic objectives, I can answer the original question of how (or if) HIMSS has moved the needle.

  • Credible Measurement: Determining the relative movement of a needle on some sort of dial requires measurements. Only then can one ascertain the impact of movement, or lack thereof.
“HIMSS created measurements where there were none; measurements that are now in common use.”

Here are three examples of measurement tools HIMSS has launched or championed: Our EMRAM tool created the ability to categorize and inventory IT implemented at hospitals and ambulatory facilities around the world. Our Davies Award and Value Suite created the nomenclature necessary to measure the impact of that implemented digital health. Both capture the evidence of impact, and broadly disseminate these bodies of work to teach and equip.

  • Trusted Policy Advisor: HIMSS’s 16-year government relations initiative has been consistently focused on highly credible, educationally oriented engagement with key policymakers, and a handful of “asks” that changed very little over time. Consistently focusing on things that matter – effective use of digital health to move the needle on quality, cost, access, and safety – earns respect and trustworthiness, which, in turn, affects positive change.
  • A Profession: In the past, many considered working in the digital health space as a vocation, not an avocation. We could take our skills and move between sectors; a bit of a gun-for-hire approach. HIMSS created an avocation. Because we believe in better health through the best use of IT, that vision became our charge.

In this instance, our measurement needle is membership and volunteerism. Don’t get me wrong – we love it when people opt-in to a HIMSS enewsletter, read our blogs, or follow the HIMSS Twitter feed. But, becoming a member of HIMSS is a step beyond; it’s aligning yourself with a group. Volunteerism is the next step – using your time for the good of those around you. HIMSS has over 100 active volunteer opportunities: committees, communities, task forces, roundtables, special interest groups, and workgroups. In all cases, annually HIMSS’s needle has moved higher.


We’re experiencing a new development among health leadership; increasing numbers of organizational leaders are overtly asking their staff members to become involved in HIMSS, and giving them time in their workday to do HIMSS volunteer work. We greatly appreciate this commitment, as we continue to move the needle towards better health through the best use of IT. If you’re ready to become active in HIMSS, we welcome you. Please engage in some of the opportunities outlined above, and reach out directly to me if you have specific questions I can help you with.


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