The power of one: HIMSS, CHIM talk reunification

April 30, 2001

After 12 years of organizational estrangement, the boards of directors of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) and the Center for Healthcare Information Management (CHIM) are conducting talks aimed at bringing the two bodies

After 12 years of organizational estrangement, the boards of directors of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) and the Center for Healthcare Information Management (CHIM) are conducting talks aimed at bringing the two bodies back together under the same functional umbrella.

The objective is to provide better representation and service to those involved in healthcare information technology, according to HIMSS president and CEO H. Stephen Lieber and CHIM CEO Carla Smith.

CHIM was founded in 1986 within the structure of HIMSS, which at that time was part of the American Hospital Association (AHA). It became independent in 1989, although the two professional organizations maintained a collaborative relationship. AHA said at the time that it was not in its interest to maintain CHIM as an affiliated group of HIMSS, so CHIM left to form its own independent association.

"The split was not reflective of differences in the philosophies of the two organizations, and we have continued to maintain compatible missions," Lieber said. "HIMSS and CHIM have worked under an affiliation agreement for a number of years. The agreement was up for renewal, and after discussing what our future objectives are, it became clear that far more could be accomplished through a combined organization."

Lieber said these accomplishments will be reflected in a broader range of available resources, including expanded educational programs and publications, and greater networking opportunities. The reunification comes at a time when the industry can benefit from the combined efforts of both organizations to confront HIPAA, the federal security legislation that's sent shock waves through healthcare.

With their different constituencies - CHIM's vendors and HIMSS's 12,000 healthcare professionals in 41 chapters who develop and implement systems - the organizations nevertheless share a common goal of advancing healthcare delivery through information technologies.

Some changes can be expected in HIMSS annual meeting, which drew nearly 20,000 participants and over 670 companies to this year's conference in New Orleans.

"Combining HIMSS and CHIM will of course bring some change to the conference as we seek to meet the educational, networking, and professional needs of this new group of members," Lieber said. "However, the independence and objectivity of the educational programming will not change."

CHIM is not to be confused with CHIME - College of Healthcare Information Management Executives - an individual membership society for provider CIOs.