Last week, over 41,000 people descended on Las Vegas for the annual HIMSS conference, #HIMSS16. Attendance was down slightly compared to the previous year, but it sure didn’t feel like it in the crowded hallways and aisles in the Sands Expo Center.
I truly enjoy HIMSS in Vegas. I find that people are more energetic and more willing to conduct business when the conference is held there. It feels like it is easier to have conversations with people in Vegas. Perhaps it is the oxygen they pump into the casinos or perhaps it is simply the aura of the town rubbing off on people.
Having impromptu conversations is one of things I love most about HIMSS. I always gain a tremendous amount of perspective when I randomly stop and chat with people in the exhibit hall. That trend continued this year, but after the first day, I felt something was missing from my discussions. It wasn’t until today that I realized what that was…there was no single consistent theme from #HIMSS16.
Over the past several years there has always been a single topic that dominated the conversations at HIMSS. Interoperability, Meaningful Use, Big Data, Patient Engagement and Population Health have all been hot-button HIMSS themes. This year, no single dominant topic emerged. There was certainly talk about gender parity, interoperability, moving to a value-based system, telehealth and Big Data, but there was no consistency to the conversations I had with fellow attendees.
I think this is a good sign. In fact, I’m excited about it.
HealthIT is in a state of flux right now. Meaningful Use is winding down, ICD-10 is in the rearview mirror and the hype around digital health is starting to wane. For the first time in years, vendors and healthcare CIOs are free to chart their own paths, pursue their own interests. This is something that hasn’t happened since the EHR incentive program started back in 2010.
Through this lens, the conversations at #HIMSS16 show me that we are about to see progress on many different fronts. Some people I spoke to are looking to invest in new decision support tools that employ the latest in artificial intelligence. Others are seeking new ways of using public data to assist in population health. Everyone I spoke to had one or two projects that they were FINALLY going to get a chance to start in 2016.
This is very exciting and I can’t wait to see how all this pent-up innovative energy manifests for the remainder of 2016.