Brian Ahier is a healthcare leader who is constantly on the move, and who seems to be everywhere at once. Healthcare Informatics caught up with him as he was dashing across the Orange County Convention Center on Wednesday, during HIMSS17 in Orlando. Ahier, who describes his title as “digital health evangelist, working for Aetna inside our Medicity business,” is one of the most traveled industry observers. He spoke briefly with Healthcare Informatics Editor-in-Chief Mark Hagland, as both were on the move at the convention center. Below are excerpts from their brief interview.
What has been the most interesting thing, or have been the most interesting things, that you’ve seen at HIMSS17, so far?
It’s two things, really. The first is artificial intelligence. With regard to that subject, I tried to go to a session where Chris Ross [Christopher Ross, CIO at the Rochester, Minn.-based Mayo Clinic] was talking about artificial intelligence applications for healthcare [in the Monday educational session “Emerging Impacts of Artificial Intelligence on Healthcare IT,” with James Golden, a managing director at PriceWaterhouseCoopers], but security had the door blocked, because it was standing room-only, and the fire marshal wouldn’t let anybody else in. There were about 120 people in the hall, trying to get into that packed presentation. I was able to download the slides; and I’m sure it was awesome. The other is Blockchain.
Is Blockchain overhyped right now?
Well, it is a little bit. I mean, as Steve Posner said, the Blockchain moment for him was when someone told him that Blockchain would regrow his hair…! It doesn’t actually do that. My favorite is that Blockchain will allow you to meet beautiful women, and they will instantly fall in love with you. There are other things, though, about Blockchain, that are actually true. One example is around revenue cycle management: right now, solutions are being deployed. So I think we’re going to start to see things being deployed on the financial side, the business side, of healthcare. My favorite one is John Halamka’s whitepaper on a prototype for a Blockchain application for medication reconciliation. So, there are lots of good things happening with Blockchain despite the hype.
Is there any single thing that you’d like people who are not here in Orlando, to know about HIMSS this year?
Well, the HIMSS Conference is the Super Bowl of health IT and digital health. If you’re not here, you’re going to miss a lot. There is some information available online. Fortunately, the trade press is really covering the event well. So check out those websites.