FHG at the AMA – or – the day I visited the IBM Building…

October 12, 2014

FHG at the AMA – or – the day I visited the IBM Building…

dsc00350I visited the American Medical Association’s headquarters in Chicago last week. And the whole thing, the entire mojo of that visit turned out to be quite inspiring.

See, there’s something about Chicago. Big, glamorous, tough, always changing. It’s a city of neighborhoods, great restaurants, lousy baseball teams, thuggish football teams…okay, your mileage may vary on that one.

But Chicago is also home to transformative, world-class architecture – architecture that changed the world.


Knowing that the AMA headquarters, AMA Plaza, is in what I still quaintly call the IBM Building, a major architectural landmark in a city full of them, I was fired up. I’m all about deep history, subterranean networks, roots and hidden connections.

Three things –

1) I’m an old Chicagoan. More than fifty years in and around the big city. And yet I had never been in that famous building.

2) I’m a computer technology type. Decades in and around that industry.

3) My 2013 novel, Pepperland, features a number of psychically radioactive Chicago buildings and locales. AMA’s building—the IBM Building—is one of them. This is another story, of course.

Here’s the thing. AMA’s building is a structure that has transformation and revolution built into its steel and glass. It’s a building that is fundamentally about changing the world. Mies van der Rohe, giant of 20th century architecture, designed that building.

Settling in Chicago in 1938 after fleeing Nazi Germany, Mies at last found the materials he needed to truly remake his architecture. And with the plentiful steel and glass of mid-century America, he changed the landscape, changed the world.


Built in 1973 as regional headquarters for IBM, the building at 330 North Wabash was an exemplar of modern technology. IBM, at that time, was at the pinnacle of American industry, completely dominating what was then the new, revolutionary computer world—think the Apple of its day. IBM changed the world.

Fast forward to now. Health care in the 21st century.

Forward Health Group has partnered with the AMA in an initiative to fix health care. Last week’s AMA Conference – Improving Health Outcomes: Blood Pressure, Learning Event 4 – featured ten medical practices from around the country, all reporting on how using data has helped guide quality improvement. These practices, some big, some small, offered inspiring stories of taking transformative technology to the streets, actually improving the lives of their patients with, among other things, FHG’s PopulationManager.Us FHG’ers, seated comfortably in the back row of the sleek conference room with amazing views on the 47th (top) floor of AMA Plaza, heard what they were saying:

“We now have the ability to obtain accurate and timely blood pressure data from our Epic EHR with PopulationManager.”  Johns Hopkins Community Physicians, Frederick, MD

“Will use PopulationManager as the go-to tool for improving patient blood pressure control.” Quality Primary Care, Chicago, IL

“The greatest tool that has emerged from this year’s project has been PopulationManager and our ability to use it to help us identify difficult to treat patients—they’re more on our radar.” Mitchell Gittelman, DO, PA, Salisbury MD

“PopulationManager was a huge asset, with almost no effort needed by clinicians to see how well they were managing their hypertensive populations, as a group and individually. The tool helped us identify why providers were missing opportunities to treat patients who needed it.” Michael Rakotz, MD, Northwestern Medical Group, Evanston, IL

So here we are in the early 21st century, once more presented with the opportunity to make far-reaching changes in a huge industry that is fundamental to our future, one that is in great need of repair.

This can be done.

FHG’s mission – change the world. Fix health care.

The mojo of that building in Chicago continues.


October 12, 2014