Excitement was in the air at #HIMSS15!!!


The 22nd annual HIMSS Conference was even more massive than it was in previous years!  The 2015 conference boasted over 42,000 attendees and more than 1,000 different vendors in Chicago’s McCormick Place. It is no surprise that the HIMSS twitter stream set new records. For those of you who were fortunate enough to take part, I hope you brought your walking shoes because McCormick Place is one huge conference center!

I’d like to highlight some of my observations:

Analytics and Big Data are a big deal

Many organizations still have a barrage of complex disparate information systems that produce tons of data but very little useful information.  Analytics tools promise to aggregate data from multiple systems and collectively display it in a meaningful and effective manner.  With our nation’s shift to pay for performance, it is imperative that we prove that we are producing quality results for our patients.  In other words, if you’re touting that your healthcare organization is a “Center of Excellence”, you better be able to prove that you are indeed excellent.  The current analytics tools that were so prominent at HIMSS15 are promising to do just that.

Interoperability is no longer optional

In Karen DeSalvo’s Keynote presentation, she mentioned it was a time for “True interoperability not just exchange.”  Healthcare organizations are fed up with systems that claim they are interoperable but fall flat when that functionality is truly tested.  Successfully exchanging patient information in a secure fashion is crucial if we are to improve healthcare across the continuum of care.  Dr. DeSalvo felt strongly that the new ONC’s Interoperability Roadmap was the key to moving forward.  She mentioned that interoperability must have true standards which include APIs.  From walking the exhibitor floor, I can tell you that were no lack of vendors selling data exchange software.  Over the next year, EMR vendors will need to be successful in this area in order to survive.

It’s mostly Cloud-y everywhere

While many organizations host their own servers containing patient information, that practice is rapidly changing.  EMR vendors and the like are moving patient data to the cloud.  There are many pros to this software model, such as reduced capital cost, improved accessibility, and decreased system maintenance to name a few.  The most prominent fears of storing PHI in the cloud are loss of organizational control of data and security issues.  It was evident at HIMSS15 that a multitude of vendors are moving in this direction and will be working diligently to create a secure cloud environment.

We should remember where it all started

One of the major highlights of HIMSS15 was George W. Bush’s keynote discussion which was nothing short of captivating.   Former President Bush was the first president to make electronic health records a government policy and was also the creator of the National Coordinator for Healthcare IT.  It seemed very fitting that he be included as a keynote speaker at HIMSS15.  Referring to Healthcare IT, Bush eloquently commented “Logical solutions become inevitable.”  In addition to healthcare IT, he also spoke of his relationship with George Bush Sr. and his many encounters with Russian President Putin, all of which were quite funny and entertaining.  The mood quickly changed though, as he spoke of his activities as the President of the United States on September 11th, 2001.  You couldn’t help but be moved by his admiration for the US Troops that subsequently waged the war on terrorism.

Overall HIMSS15 proved to be both informative and entertaining.  It took us on a journey – reminding us where healthcare IT started, and providing us with an insightful glimpse into the future – and I can hardly wait to see what they have in store for us in Las Vegas 2016!

#HIMSS15 – Top 5 Themes from the Super Bowl of HIT


#HIMSS15 By The Numbers

  • ~43,000 Attendees
  • ~1,200 Exhibitors
  •  ~350 New Exhibitors

HIT is collectively getting it’s breath back from an exhilarating week of HIMSSMania. But first, let’s start with a disclaimer: this blog article will not attempt to re-cap the event – for those looking for play-by-play commentary and analysis, be sure to check out HISTalk (Al Michaels and Chris Collinsworth can’t hold a candle to Jennifer and Dr. Jayne):

There were many lasting impressions to take from the conference, including “Being Human”, but one thing is abundantly clear – with tightening budgets, today’s healthcare leaders must do more with less. For the last decade, HIT leaders were consumed with EHR adoption and implementation. Their role is shifting and are now focused on tackling their top challenge –  financial improvement.

So with these new table stakes, what else is top of mind for healthcare information technology leaders?

  1. Interoperability Healthcare executives are focused on technology that streamlines communication and the exchange of data across their systems. The 40,000 sqft HIMSS15 Interoperability Showcase offered more than 40 educational sessions focused on this topic.
  2. Analytics Big Data, Small Data, Right-Size Data. Volume of Data vs Value of Data. The sheer amount of information healthcare organizations have to manage is dizzying. Healthcare Executives are looking for solutions to help them gain insights regarding operations, individual patients, and populations.
  3. Patient Privacy & Data Security Healthcare data breaches are up 138%. It has healthcare leaders asking the question – how secure is the patient data they take stewardship over?
  4. Care Management & Care Coordination In the words of Joel Splan, CEO of PinpointCare, “Care is delivered how it is incentivized.  We see this as a simple truth.  Fee-for-service has influenced the delivery of care for decades, and now pay-for-performance will have its day.” Care and payment reform have healthcare leaders searching for care coordination workflow and communication tools that transcend any one healthcare organization, or any one provider network.
  5. mHealth and IoT (Internet of Things) It seemed like everywhere you looked at HIMSS, there were wearables, smartphone apps, and other devices used for connecting to, communicating with, and ultimately engaging patients. The HIMSS15 conference featured a Mobile Health Knowledge Center which offered educational sessions on mobile topics including as privacy, innovative care delivery,  and security and technical requirements.

In conclusion, for all of its flaws and the perceived “noise” it generates, HIMSS is invigorating. It sparks innovation and passion, truly making oneself proud to be a part of arguably one of the most important movements in our history – driving a better patient experience and outcomes.

An Interview From The ‪#‎HIMSS15‬ Floor With Galen’s CEO Jason Carmichael

Jason Carmichael, CEO of Galen Healthcare Solutions, explains how Galen helps increase interoperability, leverage Big Data, and supports a platform that predicts the cost of an episode of care while helping design coordinated care plans.

#HIMSS15: On Being Human

purple clover

After attending HIMSS, everyone asks “What was the *biggest* theme this year?”  But this blog is not about that.  This blog is about the murmurs.  The soft undercurrent of a theme running through the speaker sessions, the social media streams, and conversations preceding and following the event.  I don’t know if I would have even made the connections if I had been there in person, with the noise of the floor, the long line for Starbucks, and the ever-attractive bling from the vendors.

But quietly sitting in my home office, I listened.  I listened to the live online sessions and the recorded sessions, I read the blogs and engaged on twitter….and as I did, I started to hear it.  Like the Whos down in Whoville calling out from their speck, the more I listened the louder it became.  “Be Human” people said.  “Be real.”

The first murmur may have been from Mary P. Griskewicz, MS, FHIMSS, HIMSS Senior Director in her blog A portal is not patient engagement in which she states “true patient engagement requires providers to listen to and make the patient part of the process.  It also requires patients to actively participate in the care process, have access to and, the ability to inform their health data and, partner with their care providers for patient engagement to be successful.”

Now, if you stand in the middle of the exhibit hall floor, you would think that this is a conference just about technology.  What I heard was a little different.  What I heard calling out from that speck was “Well actually, this is about people.  This is about health.”

Luke Webster, MD talked about changing the role of the C-suite CMIO from one that reviews and approves technology to one where the C-Suite is “Focusing on the people, the process and the change more than the technology.”  In the same session, Pam Arlotto said the CHIO is a strategy position “Redesigning care around what a patient needs, not around technology.”

At this point, I was starting my own Amen corner in my office.  This was good stuff.  These are board tables that I want to sit at and the conversations I want to be involved in.  This is going to be what changes healthcare: being human.

I was watching the twitter feed of the #HITMC (Health IT Marketing Chat) live meetup where John Lynn was quoted as saying “Be worth following.  Be human.  People want to follow humans.”  This is true not just in the arena of social media, but in organizations as well.  If you walk into any healthcare organization and say “this is the proven methodology and this is how I am doing it” without taking the time to understand the organization you are walking into, your plan is destined to fail.

Linda Stotsky tweeted “#PatientData #patientengagement is about #human interactions – not about #MeaningfulUse check boxes #IHeartHIT bc #patients matter #HIMSS15

In my consulting life, I hear providers talk about the computer in the room as a huge barrier.  It sits between them and their patient, diverting their focus from the patient to the monitor.  It looms large in their minds and it affects their ability to connect with their patient…and to be human.

first portable computer

I think back to visiting my father at work when I was a kid (this will date me), and I can remember these enormous IBM mainframes with tape.  They were writing all their information to tape, and my Dad was so proud of those massive machines.  The reporters were wary when green screen computers replaced their typewriters.  In his lifetime he watched the newspaper business go from an offset ink printing system with metal plates to fully computerized layout and publishing. It was a dramatic technological change to take the newspaper digital – and it wasn’t easy.  Dad loved the smell of the ink and the characters on the composing room floor, and even as he rode the wave of change, he was also sad to see parts of it go.  He used to jokingly call his job title the “Director in charge of new fun stuff” and he would bring home technological marvels to test at the kitchen table, like a portable computer that must have weighed 30 lbs.  Luckily for the newspaper, their “Director in charge of new fun stuff” was a newspaper man.  He had worked every job in small town papers and he never forgot that these were tools to get the job done.  He loved technology, but it had to have the right utility, be introduced at the right time, and keep in partnership with the people who would be using it in order to be successful.

Technology is changing at such a rapid pace in not just healthcare but in our lives, that it seems almost radical to say “Be human.”  We have daily conversations in my household about the amount of time family members (myself included) spend on devices vs. spend outside, and now we even have devices to encourage us to be outside and active.  My kids come home and ask how many steps I have taken and how many followers I have on twitter.  I have to occasionally take stock, think about my priorities, and make sure I throw the football around in the yard or go on a hike in the woods.

The same is true in healthcare today.  Things are changing so rapidly, we are capable of so much – we can map a human genome, we can not only create an electronic record, but we have teams that can then take that record and convert it to another software platform or upload it to an HIE.  We have wearables and Bluetooth connections and hotspots.

Sometimes, the fancy toys and new fun stuff can be so all-consuming like that trade show floor that we can lose sight of the goal.  The goal is health.  The goal is supporting our providers and their teams in providing excellent healthcare.  The goal is tools that enhance the delivery of care and increase our medical knowledge.  The goal is not for technology to be a real or perceived barrier between provider and patient, but to be a supportive aspect of their relationship.

The most basic part of being human is being present and listening.  This has an extreme amount of value, especially in times of dramatic change and situations that call for collaboration.  We need to be nimble, but we also need to be thoughtful, attentive, and make sure we are delivering the right solutions at the right time.

This is also part of why I am so glad to be in HealthIT and to be working for a company like Galen Healthcare.  We do for sure have fun cool stuff, and I will be the first to tell you about our products and services.  We are also a company and a team that knows the value of being human.  Of meeting our clients where they are, listening, and using our expertise in conjunction with their vision to turn the corner to where they want to be.

E-Referrals…Why We Are Not Breathing A Sigh Of Relief


Many organizations took advantage of the CMS Final Rule for 2014 Meaningful Use Reporting last year, breathing a sigh of relief that they could postpone implementing some of the more challenging Meaningful Use Stage 2 measures such as e-Referral and Direct Messaging. With the 2014 Attestation complete, now is the time to look at the what’s, why’s, and how’s surrounding the e-Referral process and make it a functional reality for your providers.

The ability to “Connect” is an increasingly prevalent theme as we navigate through Meaningful Use. Connecting via e-Referrals allows providers to quickly and accurately send patient information via secure electronic messaging for instant collaboration on patient care. Effective and efficient communication between care providers has been identified as a key contributing factor to providing better patient care and lowering healthcare costs. This not only reduces administrative overhead, it also increases the security of patient information and ensures that records reach their intended destination in a complete and auditable way. This also benefits the patient experience by reducing potentially duplicate tests, promoting continuity of care, and enabling faster access to services.

If you would like to hear more about e-Referrals and Direct Messaging in Allscripts TouchWorksTM  and learn how to configure your system to maximize efficiency and end user satisfaction, please join our free webcast on April 24th: E-Referrals – Review and What’s New  http://www.galenhealthcare.com/events/

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