On the bus ride home from the HIMSS14 party at Universal Studios, I sat next to a hospital CIO. She summed up the conference perfectly, “I’m tired, but also energized to go forward and do great things.” There you have the HIMSS conference in a beautiful nutshell.
It’s always a really great experience to come to HIMSS and interact with amazing people. As long as intelligent, smart, fun, wonderful people keep coming to HIMSS, it will be worth it for me to attend.
While I love attending, this HIMSS I was pretty disappointed with the real lack of major innovation that I found at the event. As is usually the case, I had a few people ask me what I found that was really interesting and innovative at the event. This year I didn’t really have an answer. Much of the progress we’re seeing with healthcare IT has been around building to government regulations along with incremental progress.
Of course, I will offer the disclaimer that I was only able to meet and talk with ~40-50 companies (of the ~1300 vendors) and talk to a few hundred people over the main 3 days. So, maybe there was a lot of innovation out there and I just missed it. Maybe it was in one of those hundreds of HIMSS press releases I got and I somehow missed it. However, I heard a similar sentiment from other attendees.
It’s also worth commenting that I’m in touch with many of these companies now on a regular basis. Maybe when I come to HIMSS I’m just seeing the next generation of something I’ve often seen and heard was already coming and so it doesn’t feel like much of an innovation to me. However, with a broader view it is an incredible innovation that I’m taking for granted.
Innovation or not, I can assure you that there is a cloud of regulation that’s hanging over every piece of healthcare IT. It’s overwhelming to vendors, providers, hospital organizations, and quite frankly everyone in the industry. Healthcare has always been a highly regulated world, but I think this is much more regulation than health IT has ever experienced before.
While I was sad to not see major innovations, I do think we’re making incremental progress towards a better healthcare IT future. Exchanging healthcare data is feeling closer than its ever been before. The changing payment model is likely going to drive this to reality. We’re starting down a really exciting path to turning healthcare data into information (to steal from an old IBM line). It’s still going to take a number of years for both of these items to become a standard, but it’s starting to march down that path.
I still have major concerns for the physician #EHRbacklash. Many EHR vendors are still naive to this coming backlash and many aren’t doing what they need to do to avoid it. I also think ICD-10 is going to be a major train wreck for a large portion of healthcare.
As is usually the case in life, there are good and bad things. Life is about learning to deal with both in the best way possible. I’m still as optimistic as ever about the potential of EHR and Health IT. We’re not where we should be when it comes to really getting the value out of the technology, but I am confident we will get there. One of my favorite quotes from the movie Remember the Titans sums up my views well: