Friday, November 14, 2014

The history of the AMP Informatics subdivision

There is a multi year history behind the evolution of the informatics subdivision at AMP.  The road to subdivision status was started by others who deserve the credit.

Andrea Ferreira-Gonzalez, PhD, was the first to launch an early morning session for the AMP informatics interest group in the early 2000s.  At that time, which was pre-NGS explosion, the interest level in informatics was still maturing.  Through the efforts of Mary Williams (executive director of AMP) and with underlying support from Jeffrey A. Kant, MD, PhD (first president of the Association of Molecular Pathology), several years later, in 2011, AMP organized a working session for several AMP members with dual expertise in informatics and molecular/genomic pathology to determine a path forward for AMP in this area as the rise of NGS and bioinformatics pipelines began to exceed all expectations.  Members of that group included Jill Hagenkord, MD, Federico Monzon, MD, Roy Lee, MD, Rama Gullipalli, MD, PhD and myself.

Still trying to wrap our heads around informatics and next generation sequencing, the strategic plan for informatics continued to brew until 2013, just before the annual meeting, when I was informed that the leadership at AMP believes they had critical mass to form an interest group and hopefully soon a new subdivision. With the seemingly tireless help of Elaine Lyon, PhD (newly elected president of AMP), Nirali Patel, MD (chair of membership affairs committee), Loren Joseph, MD and the AMP Clinical Practice Committee as well as multiple AMP staff including Mel Limson, Robyn Temple-Smolkin, PhD, Catherine Davidge, Mary Williams and Kathleen Carmody, the current iteration of the AMP Informatics Interest Group was born. Messages were sent to the entire AMP community to encourage members to declare their interest in informatics at an informal meeting for informatics phenotypes at the 2013 annual meeting.

Over 60 people attended that initial informal meeting which took place in a hallway of the convention center on November 13, 2013. Several months later, bi monthly conference calls for the informatics interest group began, and the enthusiasm of the group was clear. The program committee gave the interest group a breakout session at the 2014 annual meeting, and the group submitted a number of excellent abstracts from which four presentations were selected.

In October 2014, a message was sent to the AMP membership asking them to declare an interest in informatics if one existed. Well over 10% of the membership declared an interest, and on Tuesday, November 11, 2014, the AMP governing board overwhelmingly voted to promote the informatics interest group into full subdivision status.

Informatics is the newest subdivision of AMP

I am ecstatic to report that the AMP informatics interest group is now a full subdivision of AMP.  We received over 10% of the membership declaring interest, and the board overwhelmingly voted in favor of moving us to full subdivision status.

This is due to the enthusiasm of the group as well as to the efforts of leadership and staff at AMP in moving this forward.  The board has appointed me as chair during the transition period until elections.  It is my hope that in this position we will ensure the involvement of as many members as possible to achieve a common goal of the success and longevity of this group to the benefit of patients, the practice of informatics and AMP.

We are also looking to collaborate on projects of mutual interest with other organizations.

Monday, May 12, 2014

I've just arrived in Pittsburgh for the Pathology Informatics Summit 2014.  This meeting is my home base.  The place where I can be myself and hang with people who understand what I do for a living.  (No, my family still has no idea...)  I'm really excited to be here, and I know I will be sad when I leave.  There is no other meeting like this one for those of us who practice pathology informatics.  We have a lot of exciting content this year.  Lots of digital imaging and computational pathology for next generation sequencing will be here.  The possibilities for networking and collaboration seem endless and a bit overwhelming. 

We are using Twitter hashtag #PathInfo2014.  I've posted the tweet search on this hashtag here on my blog. 

I'm giving the presidential address this year.  I have a little surprise embedded in it which I hope will be interesting...no, I hope it's just funny.  I may post it here on the blog after all is said and done (and hopefully not in a funereal way...one never knows with humor sometimes).  It will probably all have to be explained later to my parents and to non-informaticists, but one of the joys of this meeting is that I don't have to explain my jokes (and, yes, they really are funny).  I don't even have to finish most of my sentences.  Someone here already knows exactly what I'm talking about.

It has been a year and a half since our last meeting since we changed the venue to the spring.  Way too long.  I'm having withdrawal symptoms. 

And just a small side (and a little sad) note...coming back to the 'Burgh reminds me of a dear mentor that I lost a year and a half ago, Dr. Jeffrey Kant.  I still have a picture of him and his lovely wife in my office at work.  He was like a dad to me in many ways, and I will always miss him.  He was a mentor who managed to get the best out of you without judging or criticizing, and how many mentors always tell you when they are going to be in your neck of the woods so that you can have dinner together with your family? 

I am fortunate to have a lot of other mentors who will be at this meeting.  I cannot enumerate or describe how helpful their attention and guidance has been to me.  It is because I am so grateful to them that I hope to give a lot back to those who are coming behind me.  If you are a trainee or just out in practice in Pathology Informatics, I hope that you will introduce yourselves to me.  I am hatching a plan for mentoring API members who are new into practice.  I would like to run some ideas past you and then bring them to our very dedicated training and education committee chairs, Dr. Mike Riben and Dr. Bruce Levy.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

HHS Strategic Plan for 2014-2018 is open for comment



Every four years, HHS updates its strategic plan, which describes its work to address complex, multifaceted, and ever-evolving health and human service issues. Follow this link to the draft and for more information about how to submit comments: http://go.usa.gov/Db4Y

Goal 1: Health Care - http://go.usa.gov/Db2j

This goal focuses on health insurance coverage, healthcare quality and safety, connecting primary and preventive care, healthcare costs, access to care, disparities, and health information technology.

Goal 2: Research and Innovation - http://go.usa.gov/Db25

This goal focuses on health, public health, and human services research, innovation, food and medical product safety, and tobacco regulation.

Goal 3: Public Health and Human Services - http://go.usa.gov/Db2V

This goal focuses on children and youth, economic and social wellbeing, poverty, services for seniors and people with disabilities, prevention, infectious disease, and emergency preparedness and response.


Goal 4: Management - http://go.usa.gov/DbT4

This goal focuses on responsible stewardship and fraud prevention, using data to improve health, the HHS workforce, and environmental stewardship.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Do you have a patient portal?

Do you have a patient portal?  Do you use it to review your lab data?


IRB approved study on patient portals.


Friday, June 28, 2013

HIPAA Omnibus Rule had a few surprises



I am sitting in a webinar regarding the federal Omnibus Final Rule which was published January 25, 2013 (compliance date is September 23, 2013).  This rule made modifications to several other federal rules such as HIPAA, HITECH and GINA (Genetic Information Non-discrimination Act).  

There were two small bombs that were dropped of which, I admit, I was previously unaware:

  1. The omnibus final rule now has officially and expressly stated that genetic information is protected health information.  
  2. The omnibus final rule specified that genetic information could not be used for underwriting purposes.  Specifically:
    • The Rule prohibits the use or disclosure of genetic information for underwriting purposes by all health plans, except long-term care plans.  
    • Terms and definitions in the Rule track regulations prohibiting discrimination in health coverage based on genetic information.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Supreme Court rules that native DNA is NOT patentable!

See full decision here This is a great day for genomic medicine.  No more requirement to send your specimen to a black box to get tested.