Cheers to 40 years! Celebrating four decades of 3M Health Information Systems

Oct. 18, 2023 / By David Bacon

This October marks 3M Health Information Systems’ (HIS) 40th anniversary! A lot can happen in 40 years. From an RV in Salt Lake City (Read more about that here.) to sophisticated artificial intelligence (AI) solutions used around the globe, we’ve come a long way.

Over the last four decades, we’ve created coding, grouping and natural language processing technology to improve the revenue cycle, create time to care and drive value-based care

We’ve experienced a lot of evolution and innovation, and we wouldn’t be where we are today without our fantastic clients and dedicated employees, or 3Mers. Take a journey with us on this Inside Angle series featuring some of our long-serving 3Mers as they share their favorite memories, stories and reflections on the last 40 years of 3M HIS.

3Mer David Bacon helps us kick things off by sharing how he joined the 3M family, experiences over the years and his thoughts about the future. Read on to learn more.

Name: David Bacon 

Job title: Business manager, autonomous coding 

Years at 3M: 37 

Can you tell us more about your role and background? How did you become a 3Mer? How long have you been with the company?  

John D. Morgan and Wilf Libieber began a business called Code 3 in 1978. The business was sold to 3M Company in 1983. John had an innovative approach to medical records coding. His vision was, “It should be the obligation of the computer to learn the metaphors of medicine and health care.” This formed the basis for the 3M™ Codefinder™ System. John was very passionate about this vision, and during the early days, he toured the country in a bus with a Data General computer onboard to promote the solution (in those days a laptop didn’t exist). I was fortunate to join 3M after the acquisition and grow up as a software engineer on 3M Codefinder. The early 3M Codefinder solution grew into the coding and reimbursement system, which then formed the core of our computer-assisted coding (CAC), and ultimately evolved into 3M™ 360 Encompass™ System 

What do you like the most about working at 3M HIS? 

Over the decades, I’ve been extremely fortunate to work with some great engineers, nosologists, product owners and customers. Those relationships, dedication and hard work created solutions that have endured time and adapted to ever-changing market conditions. The work has been engaging, and the people collaborative and innovative. It has always been rewarding to look back at the history created and note the accomplishments of everyone’s efforts and, at times, their sacrifices.  

What do you see as the biggest accomplishments since joining 3M HIS?  

The decades are replete with HIS organizational accomplishments: seeing the huge transition from ICD-9 to ICD-10, the creation of expert domain-specific languages, platform independent solutions, the application of natural language processing (NLP) for auto-suggested coding, the move to the cloud, the evolution of 3M Codefinder to CAC, and then to 3M 360 Encompass. It’s hard to pick from the list.  

Technology and platforms have come and gone, but a common thread has always been our approach to expert content and managing that content. In 1996, Bill Gates stated that “content Is king.” Since the 1980s, the coding and reimbursement system (C&RS) and then CAC have exemplified the notion of “content as king” with various approaches to expert rules and content. The C&RS value proposition is rooted in commercializing the frequent and substantial government regulatory changes. These regulatory changes have required domain experts to interpret and translate all these changes into actionable software. The 3M HIS expert systems approach has been essential to keep up with the dramatic and rapid pace of these content changes. 3M’s success in the market has been founded in the innovation of expert systems and what 3M HIS is doing with artificial intelligence (AI) 

A 40th anniversary is a big milestone. What do you hope for the future of 3M HIS? Health care IT? In what ways do you expect to grow or see potential? 

I believe we are at a critical crossroads with many of our products. As we move from a computer-assisted world to more of an autonomous world driven by AI, our brand promise of complete, compliant and accurate coding must continue to guide us. Along with those guiding principles, all the appropriate guiderails must be established for responsible AI. Producing effective and expert-assisted automation will set up 3M HIS for the next 40 years, where a new crew of innovators will continue to share the story of how computers learned the metaphors of medicine and health care.

Cheers to 40 years, and here’s to many more!

We are honored to feature a few individuals who are a part of a fantastic group who have shared their expertise and talent to help 3M HIS thrive over the years. Click here to read more stories of 3Mers as we celebrate 40 years of 3M HIS!

David R Bacon is business manager for autonomous coding for 3M Health Information Systems.