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Are Healthcare Integration Engines Needed?

Posted on March 13, 2017 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

In a perfect world, we might ask why health systems need to purchase an integration engine. The standards used by integration engines are pretty widespread and every EHR and Healthcare IT vendor uses that standard. Why then do we need an integration engine in the middle?

I’m sure there are a lot of reasons, but two reasons stand out the most to me are: integration costs and flavors of standards.

Integration Costs
It’s amazing how expensive it is to build integrations with EHR and other healthcare IT software. I still look back on the first lab interface integration I did. I couldn’t believe how expensive it was to do the integration and how the vendors were happy to nickle and dime you all along the way. Many of them look at it as a secondary business model.

While an integration engine can’t solve all these costs, if you have a large number of integrations, the integration engine can save you a lot of money. This includes the integration engine’s experience integrating with multiple vendors, but it also means you can often only pay your EHR vendor one time instead of getting charged for every integration.

Flavors of Standards
If you’ve ever managed an integration, you know how miserable it can be. Each side of the integration implements their own “flavor” of the standard (which makes no sense, but is reality) and that flavor can often change as the various software gets updated. It’s no fun to manage and often leads to interface downtime. You know the impact interface downtime can have on your providers who don’t understand the intricacies of an interface. No one likes something that previously just worked to stop working.

This is where integrations engines definitely shine. Their whole job is to manage these types of changes and ensure that they’re prepared for the change. If they can’t do this right, then you should search for a new integration engine. Plus, integration engines usually have tools to help you manage this and to update this as vendors change (and they will change).

Will Integration Engines Survive?
In the perfect world, we wouldn’t need an integration engine. Healthcare is not a perfect world. In fact, it’s far from it, so I see integration engines sticking around for a long while to come. They’re quite entrenched in the business processes of most large healthcare organizations.

While at the HIMSS Conference, I was talking with Summit Healthcare and they noted that they have 1 client that’s sending 5 million messages per day (Yes, I said per day!). That’s a lot of messages and that’s only one client from one integration engine. Hearing that number illustrated how valuable these integration engines are to an organization. It also flew in the face of healthcare not being interoperable. However, it illustrates how much data needs to be shared if we had true interoperability since those 5 million messages only includes a small portion of health data that could be shared.

We’ll look at diving into integration engines in more detail in future posts. I think they’re an important backbone of what’s happening in healthcare IT and many don’t realize it.

Fewer But Better – Connected Health at #HIMSS17

Posted on March 3, 2017 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Since I go to so many connected health related conferences, seeing the latest in connected health at HIMSS is not really a huge deal. In most cases, I’ve already seen it somewhere else in a less hectic environment. With that said, I thought I’d see a real explosion of these devices at the conference. Certainly, there were many there, but I didn’t see the explosion that I had expected.

While there was a concentration of them in the Connected Health area, most of the rest of the show floor didn’t have many that I noticed. No doubt we each have our own unique experience at a 40,000 person and 1200 exhibitor conference. So, I’d be interested in hearing what other people’s experiences were at the event.

Even though I didn’t see an explosion of connected health devices (In fact, I may have seen fewer!), I do think that the devices that were being demonstrated are going a lot deeper and doing much more than previous years. That’s a good thing because these devices need to be medical relevant for the healthcare establishment to really care about them.

One example was a demo I saw at the DellEMC booth. They had an incredible dashboard of data that was pulling in a number of different health devices. One tracking pill that you swallow was particularly intriguing. The pill showed that the guy demoing the software had been pretty stressed that morning when the demo wasn’t working quite right. Luckily when I was there he was doing better.

Another feature of these connected health devices that hit me was how far they could reach. At the same demo with DellEMC, they had devices that could be tracked for nearly the entire HIMSS Exhibit hall (All of the Orlando Convention Center). While that’s not needed for home applications where wifi is basically ubiquitous, this is a very valuable tool to connect devices in a hospital setting.

As I mentioned, I hadn’t seen many new things, but we’re seeing the natural evolution of these connected health devices. They haven’t really broken out at HIMSS, but they are definitely getting more mature and that’s a good thing.

Healthcare Scene Interview with Steve Lieber at the Close of #HIMSS17

Posted on March 2, 2017 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

As the HIMSS 2017 Annual conference came to a close, Healthcare Scene had the opportunity to sit down with Steve Lieber, President and CEO of HIMSS, who will be retiring at the end of the year. Being the last HIMSS conference with Steve Lieber at the helm, we wanted to get a feel for how Steve was feeling and take a look back at his 17 years at the helm of this organization.

In this interview, we talk with Steve about how HIMSS has changed over his 17 years running the organization and about some of the pivotal moments in that time. We also ask Steve about his replacement. While he didn’t give us any names he did give us some idea of the process for finding his replacement and what type or attributes the search committee will look at in selecting the new President and CEO of HIMSS. Finally, we wrap up with Steve giving some advice to healthcare IT professionals and even ask Steve if he takes pride in what he and HIMSS have accomplished.

Check out the full interview with Steve Lieber below:

Regardless of how you feel about HIMSS, it’s an impressive organization that puts on an impressive conference. It’s not easy to grow a conference to 40,000 attendees and 1200 vendors and Steve’s been at the helm of its growth. Thanks for sharing your insights with us Steve.

If you enjoyed this interview, subscribe to Healthcare Scene on YouTube and browse the full playlist of healthcare IT interviews we’ve done.

#HITsm and #hcldr Meetup at #HIMSS17 (And Online)

Posted on February 21, 2017 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I was excited to join forces with my friend Colin Hung and do a combined meetup with the #HITsm and #hcldr communities at the HIMSS 2017 conference. There’s so much overlap between the two communities, we didn’t see any reason to do something separately.

After a lot of discussions, we decided to go back to our roots and return to the old meetup style. So, we’re meeting in the lobby outside of Hall D on Tuesday, 2/21 at 10 AM ET (7 AM PT). We’ve also enlisted the help of some great people to facilitate those who show up for the meetup (Thanks @mandibpro, @shahidnshah, @sarahbennight).

There’s not really a formal agenda per se. However, we do have a fun social activity for people to participate in. Plus, even if you’re not at the event, you can participate remotely. Here’s the format if you plan to participate remotely.

At 10 AM ET (7 AM PT), you can start by introducing yourself, what you do, and a fun fact or something interesting about you.

Shortly after that, take out a piece of paper or a whiteboard in your office and answer the question “How can we #ImproveHealthcare?”. Once you’ve answered the question on paper or the whiteboard, take a picture of you with the answer and tweet it out with the question “How can we #ImproveHealthcare?” and the hashtags: #hcldr #HITsm and #HIMSS17.

The great news is that @JoeBabaian will be taking care of managing those that are participating remotely. Plus, those of us that are in attendance live will be doing the same. So, we will be able to see the remote messages and those people following along remotely will be able to see our messages from HIMSS.

That’s all. Simple and sweet. We hope you’ll join us. Plus, if are following along at home, you can check out all of the tweets people are sharing here.

Ginni Rometty Keynote at #HIMSS17

Posted on February 20, 2017 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

This was the tweet I sent after the Ginny Rometty, CEO of IBM, keynote at HIMSS 2017. Needless to say, I was extremely impressed. She didn’t say anything groundbreaking. Although, I never expect that from a CEO from a large company that knows very little about healthcare. Her expertise is in management, leadership and in growing a large company. That’s what she can speak to since that’s her expertise. She isn’t an expert in healthcare.

With that in mind, I found these insights from her particularly interesting:


This was a really important message. Far too often I’ve seen healthcare companies with a valuable vision that makes sense and then they get skewed from it because they see how other people are defining the market. That’s generally a bad idea.

On a personal level, this is even more important and something that’s missing far too often today.


I agree 1000% that endless curiosity is a powerful thing. I’d like to see more of it in healthcare. Far too many people aren’t curious in healthcare. They’re just on auto pilot. The innovations that healthcare needs require more curiosity.

I have so much more to share from the conference, but it will have to wait until later. I like to spend as much time at HIMSS, learning, engaging, and experiencing things. Then, it’s fuel for the content I create over the next 6 months to a year. That said, check out @techguy to see many of the insights that were shared at the various meetups I did. Plus, there are a number of videos shared on there as well.

Connected Health at #HIMSS17

Posted on February 17, 2017 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

One of the big growth areas at the HIMSS Annual Conference has been around digital and personal connected health (Formerly called mHealth or Mobile Health or Digital Health, etc). At HIMSS 2017 we see that trend continue. If you’re interested in connected health, then you’ll be busy at HIMSS this year.

To start off, they have an entire specialty education summit on the Sunday before the regular conference and the Monday of the conference that’s focused on Digital and Personal Connected Health (Costs $545 to attend now). You can find more details on this event and other education, exhibition and networking around Connected Health here. This Connected Health social hour looks pretty interesting.

Along with the Connected Health Summit, HIMSS Attendees can browse through a wide variety of Connected Health sessions on the education schedule and programming at the Connected Health Experience in the exhibit area.

If you’re looking for exhibitors working on Connected Health solutions, you can check out this list of HIMSS 2017 exhibitors. No doubt there are other exhibitors at HIMSS that just didn’t classify themselves that way, but they’re working on Connected Health solutions.

Along with the Connected Health sessions and exhibits, they also have a Wellness Challenge for all HIMSS attendees. If you’ve ever wanted a Free Apple Watch, then you might want to participate. I always love the idea personally but wish that the competition was virtual. I can never make it at the time specified.

Finally, if you’re not going to be at HIMSS or if you’re there and you want to share in the Connected Health conversation, there’s a special #Connect2Health hashtag you can follow and use.

I know in the past the Connected Health vendors have been some of the more interesting and innovative companies at HIMSS. I’ll be sure to report back on any that I find.

Pre-#HIMSS17 Fun Friday

Posted on I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

It’s Friday and not just any normal Friday, the Friday before the 2017 HIMSS Annual Conference. So, this Fun Friday entry is especially appreciated. I’m pretty sure I’m going to have a conversation about this first cartoon many times next week.

Everyone travel safe to HIMSS if you’re going. If you’re grinding away at home, I’ll do my best to bring you some unique, interesting, and valuable perspectives from the conference across my network of Healthcare Scene sites.

#MakeHITCount

Posted on February 16, 2017 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I’ll admit I’m a bit of a sucker for a new hashtag. Especially one that points to moving healthcare IT forward. So, you can imagine I was interested when my friends at Iron Mountain let me know that they were working on a new hashtag called #MakeHITCount.

Throughout HIMSS 2017, Iron Mountain will be collecting any mentions of #MakeHITCount on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, or LinkedIn and using those tweets to create a cool photomosaic like the one below (click on it to see it in action):

I love those photomosaics, but I love showing appreciation for people even more. I also love the idea of pointing out the parts of Healthcare IT that are making a difference in people’s lives. Here are a list of ways that you can participate in the #MakeHITCount hashtag:

  • Share your story of why it’s important to #makeHITcount now more than ever
  • Share your story of how you #makeHITcount in your job role
  • Share your story of how health IT can #makeHITcount for clinicians or patients
  • Share your Health IT Hero, the person who inspires you to #makeHITcount
  • Challenge others to tell you how they #makeHITcount

It’s too easy for us to complain about healthcare IT. We need to spend more time sharing about how IT makes our lives better and show gratitude to the people that are making it better. I’m not saying we should ignore the challenges of using healthcare IT appropriately, but we also shouldn’t take for granted all the benefits that IT can and should provide.

I look forward to what you all share on #MakeHITCount. Maybe a wave of good can open our eyes to new possibilities, inspire people who are working in healthcare IT, and make Health IT live up to its potential.

Full Disclosure: Healthcare Scene occasionally gets paid to write blog posts for Iron Mountain’s blogs.

#FakeICDCodes for #HIMSS17

Posted on February 13, 2017 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

In the world of Healthcare IT, we’re all consumed by the HIMSS Annual Conference happening next week in Orlando. You’ve probably realized that as you’ve read about my HIMSS17 Meetups, my HIMSS17 Conference and Social Media Resources, and my HIMSS17 Tips for Hospital Professionals. Oh yes, and of course my New Media Meetup Party (Be sure to register if you plan to attend). We’ll get back to our regularly scheduled programming after next week. Until then, we’ll try to give you a glimpse into the HIMSS conference experience along with insights, perspectives, and a little industry humor.

With that in mind, I was really excited when the brilliant Sarah Bennight, Marketing Strategist at Stericycle’s Enterprise Healthcare Group, shared the idea of #FakeICDCodes with me. In a lot of ways, this is a take off of the humorous ICD-10 codes list that were so popular, but applied to HIMSS17 and the healthcare IT industry as a whole with a little nod to the #FakeNews world.

Here are some sample #FakeICDCodes that I’m sure you’ll appreciate if you’ve taken part in HIMSS or some other large conference.

We’ll be sharing a bunch of other humorous #FakeICDCodes over the next couple weeks if you want to see them all on Twitter. Plus, this doesn’t just apply to #HIMSS17. These codes can apply to the industry year round. Feel free to join in and share your own #FakeICDCodes. We look forward to seeing what creative ones you come up with and share.

#HIMSS17 Conference and Social Media Resources

Posted on February 10, 2017 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

HIMSS 2017 is a massive conference. Luckily, there are a lot of tools and resources out there to help you make the most of your HIMSS 2017 experience. Here are a few of them that I’ve found useful. Feel free to add more suggestions in the comments.

The first key to the HIMSS Conference is planning your schedule. I’d be remiss if my first schedule suggestion wasn’t to take a look at this series of HIMSS17 meetups. No doubt you’ll find something that’s of interest to you and your organization. If nothing else, you should join us at the 8th Annual New Media Meetup event on Tuesday evening. It’s a lot of fun and if you can read this blog post, you’re invited.

Of course, HIMSS also offers a HIMSS17 Conference Planning page. This page will show you how you can sign in, build your agenda, add sessions to that agenda, create an exhibitor list and so much more. This feature has come a long way since past HIMSS, so check it out.

Next up, you should download the HIMSS17 mobile app (iOS and Android). The nice part is that it looks like your login and agenda should sync everything between the website and the mobile app. I’ve been using the mobile app and it’s the best experience HIMSS has created on mobile yet. It’s still a little hard to navigate in some cases, but I especially like the feature that lets you search other attendees using the mobile app (Note: The attendees on the mobile app are only those that have downloaded the app). I’m also interested to see if I love or hate the geo-location portions of the mobile app and the beacons. Feels kind of big brothery, but I like my big brother.

Speaking of the HIMSS Schedule, I think the HIMSS Schedule at a Glance is extremely useful as well. It lets you know all the times for the keynotes, parties, special sessions, and exhibit hall hours. All important things.

In case you’re looking for a specific exhibitor, this list of exhibitors and products will come in handy. It’s also available on the mobile app. This interactive map is a great way to get an idea of where booths are located and how the exhibit hall is laid out so you don’t get too lost.

If you’re into social media (and if you’re not you should be), an important trick is to learn about Twitter’s advanced search. The number of tweets sent last year (~200,000 tweets) was so massive that the best way to get value out of social media during HIMSS17 is to use the advanced search to find the most interesting tweets that relate to you. Plus, you can do neat tricks like excluding words that are likely promotional in nature.

Another option to help filter through the social media noise is to check out the #HIMSS17 hashtag guide. This guide essentially represents sub-communities within the larger HIMSS conference. By following these other hashtags, you can find a more concentrated discussion around the topics that interest you most. It can also serve as a guide for your participation in social media at HIMSS17. Plus, if you’re an exhibitor at HIMSS17, HIMSS did a social media webinar that you might find useful.

Another great method to enjoy social media, but not get blown away by the firehose of tweets is to follow this Twitter list of HIMSS17 Social Media Ambassadors. In fact, there’s no reason to wait until the conference. Start following this list now. There’s lots of great content being shared by that group.

Those are some of the resources that I’ve found useful. Let us know if you have others you’d recommend in the comments below. Also, take a minute to read through some suggestions and tips for making the most of your HIMSS17 Experience.

See you in Orlando!