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!