As I head home totally exhausted from the HIMSS 2019 Annual conference in Orlando, I’m both exhausted and energized. I’m exhausted by the pace of the event. I jokingly suggested that HIMSS really needs to go for 3 weeks if I wanted to try and see everyone I wanted to see. Needless to say, I didn’t get a chance to see everyone and everything I wanted to at the conference. Plus, I’d have loved to go a lot deeper with a lot of the people I met.
While HIMSS is hectic and overwhelming on many levels, I’m also going away extremely energized about many of the things I saw. While we all know about many of the institutionalized issues associated with healthcare, my biggest hope for the future of healthcare IT is the people. That was on abundant display at HIMSS. There are some really great people working in healthcare IT.
There’s still a lot to process from the 9 meetups, 3 video interviews, and countless other meetings I had at HIMSS. Much of it was captured on video, so we’ll be sharing it shortly. However, there are some interesting high-level takeaways I’d offer as I fly home from HIMSS.
First, the major tech companies have big plans for healthcare. Google, Microsoft, Salesforce, and Amazon all had major presences at HIMSS. However, that was just the start. I met so many vendors that have successful businesses in other industries and were attending HIMSS as they explored the expertise they could bring to healthcare IT. I’ll be watching to see how many of them are there 3-5 years from now, but you could see some real opportunities for them. That said, you could tell that many of the corporate event marketing people at these companies were still trying to figure out how to appropriately market to healthcare. There’s a big learning curve for them that many don’t fully understand.
Second, healthcare organizations finally seem to have an appetite for something beyond the EHR. Sure, they still have to continue supporting and optimizing their EHR software, but I got the feeling that many are finally finding the time to explore other health IT solutions which can benefit their organization. This seemed to be true for EHR vendors as well when it comes to meeting government regulations. Many EHR vendors are able to come up for a little air and work on something other than government regulations. Of course, this perspective was before most have been able to fully process the latest information blocking and patient access regulations.
Another promising effort I saw at HIMSS19 was more of a focus on the patient. While we still have a long way to go in this regard, I heard a lot of companies focused on the patient. Along with a few meetups we hosted which included patients, I was also impressed by a cybersecurity discussion with 3 CIOs I did at the Fortinet booth. Multiple times in this discussion, it was highlighted how security was important to their organization because safeguarding their patients’ health data was important to the patient. One CIO connected a breach with downtime that could literally put a patient’s life at risk. Another commented on how cybersecurity was more about ensuring the patients’ care wasn’t impacted than it was protecting the organization’s reputation.
Another great example of this new focus on patient impact came from a somewhat unexpected place: Citrix. When I say the name Citrix, I don’t think patient focus would have been top of mind. As a tech provider of desktop and infrastructure services, it takes a really forward-looking effort to consider the impact of your technology on the patient. However, that’s exactly what I heard from my meeting with Christian Boucher, Director of Healthcare Solutions at Citrix. Citrix had a number of solutions including streamlined login, macros, virtual desktops, deep integrations with EHR software, and much more which improved doctors and nurses efficiency in a big way. Then, he highlighted how giving 5 minutes back to the doctor also gave 5 minutes back to the patient. Those efficiencies really make a big impact on the patient. Especially if it means less time waiting for the doctor because they’re more efficient.
As my good friend, Dr. Nick van Terheyden, the Incrementalist might say, there were thousands of incremental improvements at HIMSS. Some might see that as a disappointment, but I see that as a reality. Many of the best innovations come from incremental improvements that combine to make something amazingly innovative.
What were your impressions and insights coming out of HIMSS? What really caught your eye? What was missing from the conference? Was there something you saw that you think will be transformative. Let us know in the comments and on social media with @HealthcareScene.