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So Long New Orleans: Five Memories from HIMSS13

March 12, 2013
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After a week or so of great food, great hospitality, and pretty good (can’t go all the way on that one) weather in the Crescent City, most of us are back in our offices after another memorable HIMSS Conference. Including the pre-conference symposium events, HIMSS13 had five days of everything you could ever dream of in a health IT setting. From an education seminar on Native American healthcare challenges to a dream duel on healthcare policy, and a lot in between, there was something for everyone at HIMSS13 in New Orleans. 

Kudos to the people at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) for putting on a spectacular event. Here’s a personal look back at five memories from HIMSS13 that stand out in the eyes of this editor. Feel free to leave your own memories of HIMSS13 in the comment section below.

1) Clinton Has Still Got It: The last full day of the conference was pretty uneventful with one major exception. It was clear from the get-go this day revolved around Bill Clinton. Around 11:00 am, people started to line up for the 42nd president. By 12:15, when I had gotten my seat, the Great Hall in New Orleans’ convention center was nearly packed, and not shortly thereafter, a seat couldn’t be found. From what I was told, the overflow room was packed to the brim as well. I imagine if they had put this up at the Superdome, it wouldn’t have filled up, but it certainly would have done alright.

President Clinton didn’t disappoint. In a remarkable speech, which was covered by our own Mark Hagland, Clinton urged everyone in the room to be leaders in the healthcare transformation. He told the crowd of several thousand that they are the people, and the IT that they develop, that will lead the change and get U.S. healthcare more line, in terms of quality and cost, with other advanced countries. It was very inspirational, and I loved how he referenced the Blue Button initiative.  

After his captivating speech at last fall’s Democratic National Convention, I’m sure there are little doubts left about Clinton’s ability to convincingly convey an important message in a speech. But if there are, please get a copy of Clinton at HIMSS13. It was the farthest thing from a letdown.

2) The Patient Engagement Movement has Arrived: At approximately 2 pm on Tuesday, as I was going from interview to interview, and following HIMSS13 on Twitter, I came to a realization. Patient engagement, to which that day was dedicated as per HIMSS itself, had arrived.

Although I didn’t get a chance to check out too many education seminars on the topic, I was told that every single one was standing-room only. As I walked through the exhibit floor, vendors as far as the eye could see were touting their “patient engagement” solutions. Some vendors were telling me they had done “patient engagement” before it was cool to say you were doing it. Everyone has a plan, or is in stages of developing a plan. We have no idea where this movement is headed, but if you were at HIMSS13, it’s hard to call it a stagnant issue.

3) The Alliance vs. The Borg: Okay, that sub-head sounds a bit dramatic. Maybe I’ve been watching too many science fiction movies. However, from various conversations that I had with analysts, vendors, and observers during this event, that is exactly how the industry is reacting to the CommonWell Health Alliance. I mean, that is how Epic is reacting to the alliance. The alliance was sort of leaked before the event began, but I’m sure no one could have predicted that it would be this big in size. I’m absolutely interested to see how this all unfolds in the coming months and years, and if the interoperability alliance truly makes a difference in market share.