Let's get ready for HIMSSanity

Healthcare IT pros should think about what they want to learn at the 2017 HIMSS Annual Conference and Exhibition.

As we approach the 2017 HIMSS Annual Conference and Exhibition (HIMSS17), it is imperative that you go in with a targeted plan of attack to get the most of out the event, which is expected to draw more than 40,000 attendees to the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando Feb. 19-23.

Last year I walked in with a focus on three areas:

  • Innovation
  • Consumerism in healthcare
  • Analytics

These are still three hot areas to focus on in healthcare, but I also reached out to a few industry leaders to see where their focus is for 2017. One of my contacts, who is a partner at a Big Four firm, focused on consumer/analytics platforms last year and will do the same this year, but with a deeper dive into digital and analytics.

Digital is a key issue, and every organization must make an investment in order to stay relevant. In a recent report titled "The Work Ahead," IT consulting firm Cognizant estimated that digitally mature healthcare organizations can increase their revenue by about 5.2%. That is a big number for healthcare providers. Where are you on your digital journey?

I also asked Lisa Esch, chief population health innovation officer at IT services provider CSC, about her company's plans for HIMSS17. She said CSC will be showcasing solutions focusing on several initiatives that support the shift toward value-based care, making it easier, faster and more affordable to deliver efficient, patient-centered care.

Population health

Esch points out that hospitals and physicians are increasingly turning to population health models to help in the shift to value-based care. One such initiative, driven by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), is chronic care management, a patient-centric care program intended to increase patient engagement and improve care among high-risk patients outside of the practice setting. Beyond the benefits and incentives of the program, Esch says, "We're showing physicians how they can proactively satisfy many of the clinical quality measures and financially succeed under MACRA" (the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015). With physicians’ compensation tied to quality and patient outcomes, she says, practices are looking to connect with larger circles of care teams, track transitions and integrate the post-acute care into their population health strategies. When connection is solid beyond the office, keeping patients out of the ER but within the network becomes an attainable reality.

Interoperability

Healthcare IT has moved well beyond the hospital doors, and organizations need to integrate with multiple systems locally, regionally and nationally. At HIMSS17, Esch says, CSC will be demonstrating how its Viaduct integration engine helps providers seamlessly join differing systems, leveraging investments in legacy systems through enterprise application integration. She says Viaduct lets users design, build, test, deploy and maintain application integration processes without the need to write code — and it runs on many devices and platforms.

Cybersecurity

While care has been improved with medical equipment and the growing use of internet of things (IoT) devices, the use of widely connected systems has also increased the risk of data loss or misuse. These security challenges require responses that extend beyond the traditional techniques of protecting the perimeter, patching endpoints and monitoring for event-based alerts across the enterprise. Today’s information security programs must evolve to become intelligence-driven, context-aware and automated.

Esch says that CSC will be introducing a single platform designed to achieve all of those requirements. She explains that the platform automates and prioritizes security response workflow, streamlines remediation and visualizes the security posture by extending cloud-based IT service management capabilities to security teams.

Those are all key themes that will be priorities for CIOs and healthcare executives, but what else should we focus on at HIMSS17? Here are my recommended top two areas of focus:

1. IoT technology and smart devices: Every device will be smarter, and that means we will have more data then ever. This will start a shift toward machine learning wherein we will be able to create personalized and predictive experiences for patients. Remember, the mission of the hospital of the future is to keep patients out, so we have to be extremely proactive in managing care on the hospital provider side. There are also lots of creative solutions that will be made possible by machine learning, so use your imagination.

2. Virtual reality and augmented reality (VR and AR): In January 2016, I wrote an article for the Health Standards website about the use of VR in healthcare. Since then, the technology has matured extremely well. If you do not believe in the technology yet, I would ask the question of why Facebook is investing $3 billion in virtual reality for the next decade. Are you thinking about how you can fit VR and AR into your operation?

How are you going to navigate HIMSS17 to maximize your time there? Let me know your top two priorities, and share with me some interesting things that you discover at at the conference throughout the week.

Related reading

Editor's note: To learn more about the use of VR in healthcare, read "Healthcare VR Innovations Are Healing Patients" on CIO.com.

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