Video of my AMIA keynote is live

In November I posted about how fun my opening keynote was at AMIA, the American Medical Informatics Association. See that post for tweets from the event and discussion.  It was great fun – a conference of 2,000 information science geeks – people who understand data, especially what it’s for and why data quality is important!  Boy does it save time when you start from a common view.

This week AMIA’s Jeff Williamson got  me the video of the speech.  Here it is, with Dr Danny Sands introducing me. (He’s one of the revered figures in the association; they’re also the ones who published his 1998 article on doctor-patient email.) See notes below about what makes this talk different from others.

(If you can’t see the video, view it online.)

Danny’s introduction is the first six minutes; I talked for 56 minutes; then there was six minutes of Q&A. Oh, and a standing ovation. I love it when we connect that well.

What’s distinctive about this talk

Informatics is my kind of data thinking.  It’s not just about the bits and bytes – it’s about managing data in support of decisions. And of course medical informatics is managing data in support of clinical activities. Like, taking care of you.

So, compared to other aspects of I.T., informatics is about managing data to serve a purpose. And that’s so important, because in informatics, the question of “is the job done” is answered not by “did the data move” but by “Did the right information arrive?”

Unfortunately, as I’ve often written, health data is not managed carefully. That’s why in this talk I hammered and hammered on how important this field is. And, since health data workflows don’t have strong quality checks built in, all the data doctors and nurses depend on is fragile.

Until the workflows are better someday, my advice is: Let Patients Help with the accuracy of the data. Let us look – and when we find a mistake, fix it, or the next clinician will read wrong facts. Ouch. Key takewaways:

  • The only reason to record information  – on paper or electronically – is to read it back later and do something with it.
    • Data quality is essential: If the information you read back is wrong, train wrecks can happen!
    • This isn’t just a patient rights issue: it’s a disservice to clinicians if the information we give them is wrong.
  • Who has the most at stake with the accuracy, completeness and availability of the record? The patient and family. Let patients help.
  • Information liquidity (enabled by IT innovations) is changing what we need to expect about where valid information will be, and how it got there. To understand the future, we must understand this.
  • People say culture change is hard. It is – but it’s possible. (I used some slides from the famous 45 Vintage Sexist Ads That Wouldn’t Go Down Well Today.)

In this video you’ll see mention of several honored members of the society: Charlie Safran, Warner Slack, and their protege and colleague Danny Sands. I mention them casually as if everyone knows them, because in this audience everyone does.

A note about producing a video like this:

It’s always difficult for the producer  to decide when to switch back and forth between the video feed and the slides on the screen. (I’m no expert in video production but I’ve seen enough to know it ain’t as easy as cut & paste in Word.) There are numerous places in this where I myself would have made the cut


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