Biomedical Informatics Symposium opens with address from Calif. health care leader

November 16, 2009

San Francisco -The American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) opened its Annual Symposium on Biomedical and Health Informatics with more than 2,000 members and registrants gathered at the Hilton San Francisco to exchange new information, best practices, and cutting-edge thinking on an array of topics in this burgeoning health care field. Opening the symposium was Mark D. Smith, president & CEO of California HealthCare Foundation, with a speech entitled, "Health Information Technology: Hope, Hype, and How to Avoid the Road to Hell." Dr. Smith observed, "The stars seem to be aligned for the promise of health information technology to become a reality. HIT is being discussed across the country as the cure for our ailing health care system." He noted, "Technologists have their products ready and the government is weighing in with truckloads of implementation cash." He offered a "roadmap" to informaticians, who are confronting equal parts of hope and hype, to help them navigate a path that supports the government's best efforts and promotes success.

The Administration's National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, David Blumenthal of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, delivered the keynote address, providing a snapshot of the current status of HIT as the national underpinning to health care reform. Dr. Blumenthal is charged with leading the implementation of a nationwide interoperable, privacy-protected health information technology infrastructure called for in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Dr. Blumenthal noted that many of the Symposium's scientific sessions and workshops focus on the multi-billion-dollar investment the federal government has made in the biomedical informatics industry, rendering health informatics the indisputable foundation of health care reform.

In following remarks to the health informatics community, Dr. Ted Shortliffe, AMIA president & CEO, pointed out that, "A substantial part of AMIA's mission as the organizational home and advocate for health informatics professionals is to broaden our constituency and build bridges from the academic community we are rooted in, to hospitals, corporations, government agencies, point-of-care providers, and HIT and biotech vendors. Extending a strong biomedical informatics network to all health-care related institutions," he said, "is an essential element in the evolution of a quality-driven, health-care-delivery environment nationwide."

The 2009 Symposium on Biomedical and Health Informatics features 96 sessions, plus more than a dozen working groups, poster sessions, and more than two dozen tutorials. Timely sessions are covering the H1N1 epidemic and informatics' role in preparing for public health emergencies, how informatics adds value to commercial innovation, and a primer on moving HIT policy into action. Sessions and panels are being led by leaders from government, the corporate world, and academia. The symposium concludes on Wed., Nov. 18, 2009.
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About AMIA

The American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) is a member-supported association of leaders advancing biomedical and health informatics in the United States. AMIA supports the development and application of informatics in patient care, public health, human life sciences, education, research, administration, and health care-related policy. AMIA's 4,000 members advance the use of health information and communications technology with the ultimate goal of improving health through improved health care systems. www.amia.org

For more information, contact:
Nancy Light, 301-275-1203, nlight@amia.org
Keosha Burns, 240-479-2130, keosha@amia.org

American Medical Informatics Association

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