The Tennessee Chapter of HIMSS Board of Directors recently held its annual Board meeting. In keeping with the requirements of the day, this was a virtual meeting. While we all missed the camaraderie and fellowship that in-person meetings usual afford with handshakes and hugs, the Board was extremely engaged with everyone focused on moving the chapter ahead in what is certainly a challenging period for healthcare.

Outside of normal business at hand, such as committee reports and other administrative activities by Chapter officers, attention was placed on the important discussion of driving change for more diversity and inclusivity in our chapter and Health IT. This was led by consensus agreement by the Chapter Leadership team and included comments from  Board Members Kevin Johnson, MD, MS of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and Chapter Board Member Ray Guzman, Switchpoint Ventures CEO.

Both Dr. Johnson and Guzman related personal experiences in addressing racial inequity and their career. Through their unique experiences, they highlighted the fact that bringing people together to work past differences by focusing on inclusivity and uniqueness can be a driver of change in health IT and healthcare. They both said real change starts at the personal level in addressing systemic challenges professionally. This reinforces the Chapter’s recent statement regarding diversity and inclusivity in that change can only occur through action.

At the meeting, the Chapter Leadership team and Board welcomed its newest president, Tod Fetherling, CEO of Perception Health, whose two-year tenure begins July 1, 2020, along with five new Board members (link to announcement when live).

Another important topic at the Board Meeting included rescheduling of the Chapter’s annual Summit, which was originally scheduled for April 14, but delayed to the COVID-19 pandemic. The event is tentatively planned for October 29, 2020 with format of the event still being processed.

This new day and age of social distancing and working remotely as also discussed around the Chapter’s HIT Workforce Accelerator, which just graduated the 11th cohort. Certainly, the long-term commitment of making this valuable HIT continuing learning program available remote in the past served it well during the Spring 2020 session. In combination with Belmont University, this program is still planning to be offered in person in the future, with continued options for remote learning. Tied to the HIT Workforce Accelerator is a recently announced Minority Based Scholarship Program which will be awarded to two students each session.

COVID-19 has had a tremendous impact on healthcare like we’ve never seen. From just the diagnostic factor of the disease, to understanding data around it that is disparately reported state to state to the financial implications, we have all seen first-hand how this pandemic has changed healthcare. In conjunction with and as equally important is the need for transformation around professional and personal barriers related to race. The chapter recognizes these changes and challenges and continues to build programming, education, thought leadership and action to bring about meaningful change and to address the impact we’ve all felt in this extraordinary year.