HIMSS19 Recap

Miriam Isola, DrPH CPHIMS

At the HIMSS19 Global Conference in Orlando last week it was plain to see that healthcare information technology is moving into a new phase that focuses even more intensely on actually solving problems.  The industry is finally asking the question posed by Clayton M. Christensen in his book The Innovator’s Prescription, “What jobs are our customers trying to do?”  This year the industry mindset has shifted from “knowing about” to actually applying knowledge to design, develop and create solutions in areas such as:

-Interoperability – Previously the industry was defining the issue and clarifying the need for data exchange.  This year, presenters and vendors were presenting solutions for interoperability.  The influx of non-traditional healthcare companies like Apple, Amazon Web Services, Google and others are pushing healthcare companies toward solutions, such as a new API economy, and setting new expectations.

-Innovation – Previously the focus was on implementation of systems such as EMRs and other advanced clinical technology.  This year, there were many developers and computer scientists attending HIMSS19 and looking to apply their know-how to healthcare.  This is taking the form of applying artificial intelligence to healthcare.  I attended a session where a panel discussed how to bring new innovations live within 90 days.  This is an ambitious timeframe and raises challenges for how to operate with a new consumer-focused mindset.  Healthcare providers across the country are launching innovation labs to explore new solutions.

I explored the vendor floor to see demos of complex work and dataflows for addressing the Opioid crisis where data moves from the consumer, to the EMR and then on to public health reporting systems and ultimately to the CDC.  Data is used at the point-of-care and then also extended to report trends locally, regionally and nation-wide. 

Mobile apps and devices were prominent at HIMSS19 with solutions for engaging consumers in health and wellness, tracking and monitoring chronic conditions and even a digital assistant for physicians (Suki).

In several sessions I attended, there was a clearly stated recognition that the easiest problems to solve are the technology challenges, but it is the human factors that ultimately impact the results. Just because you build it does not guarantee they will come – they being providers and consumers.  

So, what are the biggest jobs our customers are trying to do? I think the biggest job ahead of us is to tackle the cost issues we hear about in the news every day.  Currently, our solutions are not lowering the cost of healthcare.  Even with full interoperability and tremendous innovation, healthcare consumers are struggling with the cost of healthcare.  This impacts their access to healthcare today and weighs heavily on consumer minds as they imagine and dread their own personal healthcare future.  Health IT innovators must take on the ultimate challenge - to solve the healthcare cost crisis.