Amongst all of the chattering about HIEs (Health Information Exchanges) and meaningful use at this year’s HIMSS annual meeting, there was a more exciting theme running through the conference (at least it was more exciting for me).
2010 was the coming out party for consumer facing technology at HIMSS! This meeting has overwhelmingly been about internal IT concerns within care organizations. For the first time this year, HIMSS looked at health consumers as something more than an input and output to the process of healthcare.
Sessions talked about engaged consumers and the challenges of getting physicians to write encounter notes with the expectation that patients will be reading them. There were presentations about PHRs, patient portals, device connectivity in the home, IT systems designed for health consumers, social networking/Health 2.0. There were even discussions about health consumer experience that didn’t mention redesigning the hospital entryway (ok, that never got talked about much at HIMSS either, but you get the idea).
I thought I’d died and gone to eHealth heaven!
Some other observations from the show:
- The interoperability showcase was really slick. They’ve had these in the past, but I’ve never wandered down to see these before. Watching your data move from system to system was delivered well and really told a story. On the other hand, I am a little embarrassed that we, as an industry, are so excited that our systems can actually talk to one another.
- Meaningful use and ARRA was all the buzz. Lots of sessions exploring how organizations are shooting for meaningful use along with a series of town hall meetings fielding questions about various aspects of the regulations and rules. A number of vendors were obsessed with the topic, and some attendees were complaining that some vendors weren’t talking about anything else.
- The disconnect between what I hear from the leaders who are driving the definition of meaningful use and the vendors and the providers (who are receiving much of their information on the topic from their vendors) is tremendous. When someone like John Halamka talks about meaningful use, he’s talking about how it’s going to fix healthcare. By the time the EMR vendors are telling the story, the point of achieving meaningful use appears to be to get meaningful use funds.
- Some combination of the weakness in other segments of the economy coupled with prospects for heavy IT investment from healthcare is causing lots of vendors to be diving into this market or broadening their HIT footprint. Microsoft, Lawson, and others have made significant acquisitions to extend their presence in HIT while many players are developing new products such as ePocrate’s leap into the EMR market.
- The huge buzz around Google Health and Microsoft Healthvault has died down in the reality of low adoption by both partners and consumers. Microsoft was pushing many solutions (as they have in years past) with Healthvault having a much diminished role. Google, which really entered HIMSS around its Google Health offering was largely pushing search appliances and Google Enterprise Applications.
In the end, HIMSS was the break-neck ride that it has been in years past. This year, more than most, it appears to be a foreshadowing of what will be happening in HIT when we all go home.