March 19, 2004

Health care leaders convene at Vanderbilt Center for Better Health

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Predicted structural model for the sodium channel C-terminal region, highlighting the EF-hand loop in yellow, with a blue calcium ion bound. The red amino acid (bottom center) is one that is mutated in long QT syndrome, which predisposes patients to life-threatening arrhythmias.

Health care leaders convene at Vanderbilt Center for Better Health

It was a meeting of more than 50 health information technology minds March 11-12 at Vanderbilt Center for Better Health. A team from Vanderbilt University Medical Center met with Washington congressional staff members and health care leaders, information technology experts, physicians and executives from several federal health-related agencies.

The group met for an unusual and innovative “design session” to discuss and explore the needs, opportunities and challenges related to the effective use of information technology in health care.

The event was planned after Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) met with leaders from VUMC in December to learn about the Medical Center’s informatics tools and the results of their use.

"This session represents a way for Vanderbilt to leverage its capabilities in biomedical informatics to assist our legislators in Washington as they try to improve the U.S. health care system. Working on legislative and policy issues is one of the key activities of the center as it pursues its mission of leading transformational change in health care,” said David Osborn, Ph.D., executive director of the VCBH.

Participants included U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) and congressional staff from the offices of Sens. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) and Frist, among a host of other leaders in the health care industry. There were also representatives from the office of the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Agency for Health care Research and Quality, the Florida governor's office and TennCare.

The group saw demonstrations of the various electronic tools created at VUMC including WizOrder, StarChart and StarPanel, as well as demonstrations from other systems used by other health care providers.

“The demonstration and discussions deepened my understanding and appreciation for the astounding potential of information technology tools in improving care. The Center for Better Health provided us with a unique opportunity to discuss the issues involved without political or proprietary static,” said Liz Scanlon, Health Policy Advisor for Frist.

“My colleagues and I are actively building on the Vanderbilt sessions and hope to develop bipartisan policy proposals in the very near future.”