Yu Preaches the Power of Healthcare Innovation

At the AHIMA Annual Convention, keynote speaker Wil Yu, senior advisor of Innovation for the City and County of San Francisco, challenged HIM professionals to be the “pioneers” needed in healthcare innovation to carry the nation forward. Yu also said there has never been a better time to act as a healthcare innovator, as market and policy changes are made to the current care model nearly every day.

National Health Innovation Leader Addresses AHIMA Convention

CHICAGO – Oct. 2, 2012 – Wil Yu, senior advisor, Innovation, for the City and County of San Francisco, challenged Health Information Management (HIM) professionals to be “pioneers” in healthcare innovation to carry the nation forward.

Yu, who led the nationwide healthcare innovation efforts for the United States through the Department of Health and Human Services, delivered his speech Tuesday at AHIMA’s 84th Annual Convention and Exhibit at McCormick Place.

“As guardians of health information, you are in the optimal position to thrive in what I consider this country’s long summer of health innovation,” Yu said. “Your work will build the infrastructure of an evolution that will not only improve and save lives, but also change the way Americans perceive their health and their own care.”

Yu noted that while the United States needs healthcare innovation more than ever, there has also never been a better time to be an innovator with market and policy forces building momentum for dramatic change.

This innovation must transform the current care model, Yu said.

“We need to better identify and help those who will be sick before they show up in care settings such as the emergency room where care is more expensive,” he said. “With the support of taxpayer funded programs and public-private partnerships, we can influence the magnitude, velocity and timing of innovation.”

Yu measures innovation by the value obtained from a new finding or application over time. He shared a case history on scurvy to illustrate how challenging it can be to incorporate new information to advance adoption and diffusion of innovations. It took more than 260 years from the early experiment of adding lemon juice to daily diets aboard long overseas voyages before citrus fruits were routinely incorporated as part of the daily ration.

Yu encouraged HIM professionals never to lose focus on the most important reason for innovation – better patient care.

“The patient is always at the center.  We can work together to reduce medical errors, lower hospital readmission rates and raise levels of patient engagement, so that the future care for children born today will be vastly improved from today’s standard due to the current pioneering efforts of innovators across this country” Yu said.

“AHIMA strives to encourage its members, staff, and all healthcare professionals to bring innovation into their daily work,” said CEO Lynne Thomas Gordon, MBA, RHIA, CAE, FACHE, FAHIMA. “Wil’s remarks reiterated that value, and helped to give members the motivation to make positive change, no matter what their role may be.”

Yu will speak again Wednesday at the AHIMA and AHIMA Foundation’s Inaugural Health Information Innovation Leadership Conference.


Representing more than 64,000 specially educated Health Information Management professionals in the United States and around the world, the American Health Information Management Association is committed to promoting and advocating for high quality research, best practices and effective standards in health information and to actively contributing to the development and advancement of health information professionals worldwide. AHIMA’s enduring goal is quality healthcare through quality information. www.ahima.org