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Healthcare Informatics’ HIMSS17 Survival Guide

February 8, 2017
by Heather Landi, Rajiv Leventhal and Mark Hagland
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How is the vendor market shifting to the changes we will be seeing in health IT policy, and how much conversation will there be around these topics?

We, the editors of Healthcare Informatics, will be joining, very shortly, an anticipated 40,000 people at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida for the HIMSS17 Conference and Exhibition, sponsored by the Chicago-based Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society. The sheer size of the HIMSS Conference has grown steadily in the past two decades, as the 1993 event, held in San Diego, drew 4,000 attendees, according to a review of HIMSS history. Last year’s HIMSS conference drew a total of close to 41,000 attendees. Going into HIMSS17 in Orlando, we are anticipating it will be bigger than ever, and as frenetic with activity as ever. As veteran conference attendees well know, once the conference begins, it becomes a sprint to pack as much networking and education into five days as possible all the while trying to navigate between point A and point B through crowded hallways. Over five days, HIMSS17 will feature 300 educational sessions and 1,200 exhibitors, and, keep in mind, last year’s exhibit space occupied over 1.3 million square feet of space. Additionally, HIMSS is projecting an attendance of 45,000.

While the volume and sheer size of the HIMSS Conference have steadily grown, more importantly, in the last two decades, healthcare IT issues have become central issues for U.S. healthcare. The healthcare industry is already tipping into transformational change—change that is already occurring at many patient care organizations, with the shift to alternative payment models (APMs) and delivery system reform. And, it has become clear to many healthcare leaders that health IT will be absolutely essential to any shift away from volume to value. Additionally, with a new Administration in the White House, it seems almost certain that more changes are to come with regard to federal healthcare policy. As in year’s past, this year’s HIMSS conference promises to provide fascinating insights and perspectives and ongoing innovations that are helping to shape this industry at this crucial inflection point in healthcare. And, there are sure to be some surprises at HIMSS, as well. With this in mind, we interviewed healthcare IT leaders to gain their insights into what to expect at HIMSS17, to provide you, our readers, with a HIMSS Survival Guide that can serve as a forecast for this year’s conference.

What will be the biggest buzzwords and “buzz concepts” this year?

Charles E. “Chuck” Christian, vice president, technology and engagement, Indiana Health Information Exchange, Indianapolis, IN:

Other than FHIR [Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources], I think you’ll see several iterations around “blockchain.” I’d had more than one conversation with several folks on the topic. It’s more about what we can do with the technology, can it apply to healthcare and how might it apply. I’m unsure if there is really a revenue model for it yet, but one can never tell.

Joseph Scopelliti, IT director, data management, Geisinger Health System, Danville, PA:

I’ve got to believe that security’s going to be very big this year, and everybody’s concerned about breaches. And of course, analytics is going to be huge, too. And also, with the change of administration in Washington, that’s going to be big.

Vince Vickers, KPMG’s healthcare technology leader:

I believe there have been the same topics for the last two years and I think we’re going to see a shift this year. We’ll see more interest in machine learning, and I think that’s going to be a hot topic. I think we’re going to see more discussion around efficiency from an operational standpoint around software bots and process automation. There’s a number of startups that I see are going to be there around data and ownership of that data, and patient access to their data using new technologies like blockchain. Looking through the exhibitors, I believe there’s like nine or 10 blockchain-related vendors that are going to be at HIMSS, so that’s going to be an interesting topic. Additionally, we saw a significant number of high profile breaches from a cybersecurity perspective in 2016 and that is not going away. As that’s becoming a bigger challenge, I suspect cybersecurity is going to be a big topic as well. I think we’re going to see and hear a lot about patient access and patient experience. Regardless of what happens with the Affordable Care Act (ACA), I think the consumerization of healthcare is going to continue to be a hot topic, and that includes mobile technologies and anything around the patient experience.

Gregg Mohrmann, partner, The Chartis Group:

Where we kind of see things going is IT elevating itself to the enterprise strategy level, and really tying the IT strategies to the business strategy. Ten key topics, in no particular order: electronic health record (EHR) value realization; business informatics, paired with finance and administrative systems; innovation and digital health; continuing to align IT and its value to the enterprise strategy; precision medicine and genomics; convergence of performance improvement and analytics to drive value; the new administration and implications; integrated care management—population health on steroids; what I would call one-stop-shop access centers, not just call centers—for patients and consumers; and clinically integrated networks, which ties to interoperability and common EHRs. Those are the top ten trends we see.

Gregg Mohrmann

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