Our 9th Annual Symposium: Reflections on the Possible

At the end of our three-day symposium at Johns Hopkins University earlier this month, I asked the attendees to describe their experience in just one word. Here’s a representative sampling of what we heard: “Exciting.” “Energizing.” “Thought-provoking” (is that one word?). “Insightful.” And my personal favorite: “Inspiring.”

All of us at the Stewards of Change Institute (SOCI), which sponsored the event, are obviously delighted and proud that the approximately 100 local, state and federal HHS officials and professionals who came to our 9thAnnual Symposium had good things to say about what they saw and heard. Much more importantly, we’re encouraged by their response because it means most of them went home not only understanding that the lives of millions of people in our country can be improved through better information-sharing, but also believing that they can help to make it happen.

At SOCI, we are confident that, together, we can indeed achieve this admittedly ambitious goal; in fact, doing so is our mission, and it’s why we titled this year’s symposium Advancing Health and Human Services Interoperability: From the “State of the Art” to the “Art of the Possible.” It’s also why we shaped so much of the agenda around the federal Project Interoperability of our keynote speaker, Kshemendra Paul, who was appointed by President Obama in the wake of 9-11 as Program Manager of the national Information Sharing Environment; he has been working to make interoperability a reality in the realm of national security, and we are learning from each other how to most effectively do so in HHS as well.

Our deep appreciation goes out go out to Kshemendra, as well as to all our other federal partners and SOCI Board members, not only for their participation in our event, but also for their dedication to a cause we believe is vital. Sincere thanks, too, to our collaborator on the symposium, the Bloomberg School of Public Health at JHU. And a deep bow of gratitude to the sponsors who helped to make this undertaking possible: Google, IBM, Esri, the Stuart Foundation and the California HealthCare Foundation.

If you didn’t attend this year’s invitation-only symposium – or if you did and want to be reminded of why such kind words were used to describe it – please take a look at the agenda and the graphic illustrationswe’ve created and, most pointedly, please feel free to watch the videotaped sessions. We hope you will be excited and energized by what you see and hear. And, even during this time of government gridlock and retrenchment – or maybe especially at this time – we hope you will be inspired.