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Four Takeaways from my First HIMSS

February 29, 2012
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Imaging, analytics, meaningful use and ICD-10 were some of the hottest topics at HIMSS12

I can’t say they didn’t warn me. Leading up to HIMSS12, many people cautioned me about the craziness of HIMSS, how busy I’d be, how I’d hardly have a minute to breathe, etc. Even with these warnings and prior large conference coverage experience, I still found myself caught up in the whirlwind nature of the week-long conference.

Yet despite its hectic nature, I really enjoyed the event. It was enlightening, exhilarating and yes, exhausting. I think I’m finally at the point where I can say I’m recovered from the event! I came out with some fascinating insights about the state of healthcare IT. Here were a few big takeaways from my first HIMSS12.  

ICD-10:  When the week started out, ICD-10 was the hot topic. There was a lot of talk about why physicians pushed hard for the compliance delay, and many came out in disagreement with the decision. Many groups like the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) released statements urging the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to act fast on a new compliance date. There were several sessions, including a packed-to-the-brim daylong pre-conference symposium, on the subject.  I had a long chat with medical terminology vendor Health Language (Denver), as well as their client, insurer WellPoint (Indianapolis) on ICD-10 from a payer-provider perspective. The individuals mentioned that never before have payers and providers collaborated like this. Most of the ICD-10 talk surrounded the delay and one thing became clear:  there is a lot of divisiveness on the subject. It will be interesting to see how everything shapes out.

Meaningful Use: Of course, you can’t talk about HIMSS12 without mentioning meaningful use Stage 2. As soon as the rumors started to build that the federal Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) would post the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM, or “proposed rule”), things got crazy. Every talk given by Farzad Mostashari, M.D. became a crowded affair. Finally, Mostashari announced the release of the rule and then the ONC posted it last Thursday. For a look at some of the early reactions, check out this piece from the HCI team.

Analytics: I blogged about this last week, but it’s worth mentioning again, analytics was a hot topic at HIMSS12. With the rising use of population health management strategies to help providers become accountable care organizations (ACOs), analytics is definitely the trend du jour around how to get you there. I talked about the McKesson panel and how they all recognized the importance of real-time analytics taken from troves of data has to the future of their institutions. In addition, I had a chat with Harris Healthcare (Falls Church, Va.), whose consultants discussed their analytics solutions. A number of other end-users and companies were also getting into the mix. At the ACO pre-conference symposium, I also heard Steve Davis and Roberta Sniderman, both of HealthCare Partners Medical Group, a 7,000-plus physician multi-state, medical group based out of Torrance, Calif., talk about the roadblocks in data-sharing.

Imaging: For whatever reason, maybe I had the words “imaging informatics” tattooed on my head, but lots of people at HIMSS12 wanted to discuss the state of imaging in healthcare IT. The most interesting chat I had with was Jeffrey Atkin, the chief operating officer of Reston Radiology Consultants, a small radiology firm based out of Ashburn, Va., who talked about adopting Merge Healthcare’s (Chicago, Ill.) iConnect imaging enterprise software. Look for more on Atkin’s take on this unique image storing and management solution. I also caught up with Rasu Shrestha, M.D., vice president of medical information technology at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), to get his take on the imaging storage issues currently present in the industry. It’s clear that the rapid growth in the volume of diagnostic images has got many people in healthcare IT thinking about a possible solution.

Those were my big takeaways. If you attended this year’s conference, what did you learn?