HIMSS 2015: First Time Visitor

Tom Zimmerman

Update from the 2015 Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) meeting

I’ve walked the healthcare exhibit halls of McCormick Place since 1982, but this was my first Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) meeting.

I enjoyed the familiar, animated buzz of attendee conversation as we made way up the Grand Concourse escalators, past the west atrium’s arching water fountain. 38,000 IT professionals, clinicians, executives and vendors had managed to occupy education programs, keynotes, roundtables and workshops. They’d also spilled into the expansive exhibit area where about 1,200 carpeted booths were waiting.  That’s where I intended to spend a few quality hours learning more about the people and tone of an annual HIMSS conference and exhibition.

HIMSS explains their three conference pillars as showcasing the newest technologies, trends and solutions in healthcare IT. So that’s what I went looking for as I angled left across Level 3 and into the North Hall.

I learned it was “Wearable Wednesday” and the Intelligent Health Pavilion had impressive demonstrations of Bluetooth-enabled wireless devices. Not just HR wristbands or remote monitoring for blood pressure and glucose. They had a dozen different patient care scenarios with a clever variety of data collection, analysis and response pathways. There were fully appointed rooms – a patient’s living room, kitchen, bathroom and care giver room, each with different intelligent device features. There was also a clinical setting with an ED, patient room, neonatal, lab, and cath lab.  Attendees were given headphones to walk through and listen in on the action, similar to a museum experience.  Nicely done.

Other patient centric technologies ranged from admittance kiosks and bar code scanners to patient portals. Mobile apps and devices were abundant for these portals, recognizing the voracious expectation we all have for access anywhere.

The theme of actionable analytics also played out across many exhibitors. Everything from region wide population health to departmental workflows. Predictive trends for financial management to real time bottlenecks in clinical settings. Data visualization was near the top of the list for most demonstrations – quite a variety!

Cyber security had a bigger footprint on the show floor than I would have guessed. And it was packed! (I asked one of the consultants if he thought personal email servers could ever truly be secure, but he only smiled.) Again, lots of visualization tools to depict, and predict potential threats. This was obviously top of mind for many attendees.

For my own work at GE Healthcare, I took particular interest in technology and workflow exhibits related to enterprise imaging. Although HIMSS isn’t necessarily known as an imaging show, I was pleased to see the activity around universal viewers, vendor neutral archives (VNA), and cloud collaboration solutions. These truly are of enterprise interest and I’d like to see much more attention devoted to these topics in 2016.

It was a productive morning. I learned a lot and enjoyed the detailed conversations with attendees and vendors alike. The HIMSS team definitely kept to their three pillars of technologies, trends and solutions. I’ll look forward to helping them do more of that with our team at the 2016 edition!

Please do write to share your thoughts on the event, and be encouraged in all you do,

Tom Z

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