Participants were enthusiastic about ACU’s conference on Health IT and the Underserved: Transform the Way You Think about Change, held in Poughkeepsie, NY, March 7 -8, and many left inspired with new ideas. “I was very excited about the opportunities provided by technology to really enhance professional education for clinicians,” said Jillian Hopewell of the Migrant Clinicians Network. “I have been very impressed with the breakout sessions … the privacy and security session was extremely informative, and a lot of other people felt it was very helpful, said Eric Brosius of Hudson River Healthcare.

Charles Lee, MD, President & Founder, Polyglot Systems, Inc. and Anne-Marie Biernacki, CTO, Co-Founder, AdhereTx Corp.

The conference featured plenary sessions with keynote addresses by three officials from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.  Dr David Hunt, Chief Medical officers for the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for Health Information Technology said that computers are not the destination, merely the means of delivering care based on real communication, data, and knowledge. Dr. Kevin Larsen, Medical Director for Meaningful Use at the ONC, said meaningful use is the path to better healthcare systems. Ms. Joy Pritts, Chief Privacy Officer, said, “We are all responsible for a culture of privacy and security,” but that the importance of privacy has to be communicated from the top down.

Other keynotes presenters were Dr. Michael Painter of The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, who said he was wearing his personal health record on a device on his wrist. Dr. Neil Calman of the Institute for Family Health said that an overarching goal of the meaningful use program is to use health data to improve quality, safety and efficiency as well as to reduce disparities.

Ms. Ceci Connolly of the Health Research Institute at PwC predicted that in a decade from now there will less fee-for-service care, an increase in team-based care using non-physician providers, and a more consumer-centric approach to care delivery.

Katherine Brieger, RD, President of ACU, said she was pleased with the conference overall. “Health centers are trying to take advantage of the incentives in the Affordable Care Act to become meaningful users, and this conference was just one way to keep the momentum going. “

In addition to the keynote speakers, the conference featured workshops on topics ranging from digital data privacy, mobile technologies, electronic medical records, and patient portals, health information exchange, and telemedicine, among other topics.  Approximately 165 participants attended; by one estimate, about one third were clinicians, one-third health it professionals and one-third quality improvement staff.  You can read more of their comments and reactions here.

Brieger said that ACU plans to follow up with a technology task force or working group. If you are interested in getting involved, please send your name and contact information to