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Conference will review healthcare IT

La Crosse, Wis. - Healthcare professionals will have the opportunity hear about the latest in information technology and its implications upon the profession at the Wisconsin Dairyland HIMSS Fall Technology Conference.

The event, to be held Sept. 12-13 at the Radisson hotel in La Crosse, will be split into two parts. The first day will be dedicated to social events such as a golf outing and a riverboat cruise, gatherings where the 100-plus registrants will be able to network and discuss the latest issues in the healthcare sector. The following day will feature the main substance of the conference, with keynote speeches, nine breakout sessions and a vendor fare featuring 23 booths.

"The goal of our Fall Technology Conference is really to expose people to the latest technologies relating to healthcare IT," said Wisconsin Dairyland HIMSS (Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society) President Pauline Hogan. "The vendor show obviously is a big part of that, but we also want people to walk away with what other organizations have learned."

Presentations from different healthcare organizations and users of related IT technology will discuss such topics as electronic medical records, mobile computing, PC blades and clustering, and the increasing automation in the healthcare sector.

One keynote presenter will be Audrey Dickerson, HIMSS manager of standards initiatives. Dickerson will be discussing the International Standards Organization process and the need for standards in the healthcare industry that are both universally adhered to and interoperable but are also open and versatile enough for a variety of clinical applications.
"I think the details are best illustrated by all the things have happened in the last two weeks," Dickerson said, pointing out the disruption of healthcare services from the loss of paper records in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. "If we had an electronic health record, nothing would be lost."

Dickerson added that she hopes healthcare professionals would get involved in the crafting of such standards and work across organizations in making the concept of universally compatible electronic health records into reality.

Another address will be from Milwaukee futurist/theorist David Zach, discussing the various ramifications of automation as it continues not only in basic recordkeeping but also in the more advanced aspects of medical care.

"We can automate caring, but maybe we need to broaden the definition and have new words. Is there a distinction between care-giving and caretaking?" Zach said, contrasting the mechanical aspects of healthcare with the one-on-one interactions and crucial judgment calls made between doctors, nurses and patients.

"A tremendous amount of what we do is getting automated," Zach added. "And if we want to still be humans in the future and have a central place for them, then we have to think about what cannot be automated."

Eric Kleefeld is a writer for WTN in Madison. He can be reached at

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