Q&A with Dr. Paul Kleeberg, chair of HIMSS

Q&A with Dr. Paul Kleeberg, chair of HIMSS

by Sean Ruck, Contributing Editor | April 24, 2015
Dr. Paul Kleeberg
From the April 2015 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

In advance of HIMSS15, HealthCare Business News caught up with the society’s chair, Paul Kleeberg, to get the latest updates regarding health care informatics.

HCBN: How did you get involved in health care?
I went to college and got a degree in psychology, and worked with problem kids. Over time, I realized I was catching them at a late phase and wanted to get to them earlier in the process. I thought of going into clinical psychology, but a friend talked me into medicine and I became a family doctor. I was working with people and families, helping them to improve their lives and it really was what I wanted to do. When you’re working in a small town as I was, delivering babies staffing the emergency room, the nursing home and people of all ages, you really feel a sense of accomplishment.

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Meanwhile, I had a second career at the time in health information technology. In 1984, as a first year medical student, I bought my first computer; I recognized it was better at recalling and organizing information than I ever would be. That year, I realized health information technology was
the future of medicine. I was so convinced, that in my second year at Stanford Medical School, I convinced the statistics department to require the use computers and I taught the computer part of the course. In 1990 I started a discussion list to have family doctors share their use of health information technology with each other. I learned a lot from these discussions. My careers in informatics and medicine have been parallel ever since.

HCBN: How did you get involved in HIMSS?
I got involved because it was an organization that was leveraging health information technology to improve care. They also had a network of volunteers in which I could participate. When I first started attending the meetings, people were surprised to see a doctor, but that has certainly changed over the years.

HCBN: What are the main reasons an organization like HIMSS is needed today?
HIMSS is an organization that draws from multiple groups – physicians, CIOs, nurses, vendors, academics – it’s a broad spectrum. There are also folks from federal government. We are all are working together to improve health through the use of information technology. As a result of this collaboration, we can develop well informed opinions that focus on improving care in a way that is best for the nation, rather than for one interest group. HIMSS provides informed and collaborative leadership. As a result of this membership, we’re unique for programs that commit to the common good.

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