Spring 2019 Newsletter - HIMSS19 in Orlando

By Jenni Bendfeldt, Secretary, Founder & CEO of RecastHealth

Along with over 43,000 attendees, several members of the NorCal chapter attended HIMSS19, the largest health IT conference of the year. This year’s event took place February 11-15 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando and kicked off by announcing what some may consider to be the most impactful piece of proposed legislation for healthcare interoperability and data-blocking yet, the 21st Century Cures Act.

Throughout the week, the convention center buzzed over what these proposed changes could mean for health IT vendors and healthcare executives, as well as patients. In short—the powerhouses that have dominated the industry for the last decade (e.g., EHR vendors, major health systems) will now be obligated to play nice with their competition for the purposes of coordinating patient care and ensure patients have easy access to their health information at no cost. 

In addition to the interoperability announcement, which many people in the industry have so lovingly nicknamed as “The HIMSS Rules”, the conference showcased advancements in hot topic issues within the industry. Here are a few key takeaways: 

AI is no longer a concept of the future, it is here today.  Attendees were able to see first-hand how the technology is being used in the industry, essentially replacing what had previously been considered “Big Data” or “Analytics” capabilities, with an automated, machine-learning functions that require less manpower. 

Security and privacy concerns continue to evolve as the industry welcomes more non-traditional healthcare providers (i.e., Apple, Amazon, Google) into the world of data-sharing. FHIR is proving to be the go-to format for data programming, due to the ease of integration with EHRs. 

Blockchain is gaining momentum and we are starting to see the first examples of how it can be used in healthcare. Currently, the majority of use cases focus on administrative applications of the technology (e.g., managing contracts, insurance authorizations) as opposed to clinical (e.g., charting, research), likely as a means to gain end-user trust of the technology without risking patient care. 

The patient-focused care design continues to gain momentum, as demonstrated by the sheer number of educational sessions with the words, “consumerism”, “patient-engagement”, or “patient-centered care” included in the titles. Attendees had the opportunity to learn about the latest theories and products that aim to produce better outcomes and happier patients at a lower cost to care.  

In addition to the core vendors that have occupied the showroom floor for years, there were dozens of newcomers making their debut to get there name out there, learn more about how the industry actually operates, and attract potential customers as well as investors.  Attendees could experience a true “smart house”, ride a stationary bike to raise money for charity, and even perform a brain scan using AR technology. 

Perhaps the most exciting moment of the conference took place in the NTT Data booth on Tuesday evening where we hosted our annual NorCal chapter reception. We were delighted to treat nearly 80 attendees to lots of food, drinks, fun, and dancing robots. We extend a sincere thank you to NTT Data and their partners for sponsoring the event and their continued support for the chapter.