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Symptoms: Fatigue, bleary eyes, lost voice, and sore feet. Diagnosis: A productive HIMSS 2014.

Posted by $rel.title - $rel.bizTitle on March 3, 2014

HIMSS 2014 , HIMSS14 , RelayHealth , inteoperability , Summerpal Kahlon MD ,

From the absolutely enormous exhibit hall to the wide variety of talks available during the conference, last week’s HIMSS provided a wealth of information and stimulation for new ideas.

Images from HIMSS 2014. The ability to interact with a variety of folks from around the industry was, for me, an invaluable opportunity to learn and share. The bonus was an opportunity to see old familiar faces and meet new ones as well.

This year’s overarching theme of interoperability wasn’t particularly new. What seems to be different, however, is the demonstration of visible progress on numerous initiatives that proves interoperability between systems is not only possible, but is happening. The industry surely has a long way to go – it’s quite likely that in five years the primary theme will still be interoperability – but this year’s conference was the first one which convinced me that real, seamless patient-level interoperability is beginning to happen at scale.

Population health was another common theme at the meeting, with sub-themes of patient engagement and analytics driving the conversation. Given the size of the exhibit hall and the number of exhibitors emphasizing this theme, I didn’t have nearly enough time to see all the innovative new ideas becoming available. However, there does appear to be a number of population health initiatives, both from small new startups and large established companies. I have a feeling that there will be more buzz around this topic at HIMSS 2015 as providers and patients gain more experience applying these technology tools to their daily healthcare needs.

Two aspects of this year’s meeting gave me a hint of excitement at what’s to come in the next few years. Telemedicine is gradually advancing, with expert talks on the subject, telemedicine demonstrations in the Intelligent Hospital pavilion, and several exhibitor booths displaying varying capabilities in the field. Telemedicine feels like the next frontier in healthcare delivery, and it’s exciting to see it begin to visibly appear in the mainstream. The other fascinating development is the strong participation among non-traditional industry stakeholders at HIMSS, such as insurance companies and pharmacies. Several organizations showed themselves to be savvy clinical providers as well as technology producers. The industry as a whole can only stand to benefit from continued dissolution of industry siloes as an increasing number of healthcare stakeholders move towards common interests and capabilities. As the health IT industry (and the HIMSS conference along with it) matures, I look forward to the excitement that new industry segments bring to the meeting each year.

Following my third HIMSS conference in four years, I have only one message to the organizers: let’s do it in Orlando every year! I, of course, am a biased central Floridian who enjoys the local version. HIMSS and Orlando certainly worked hard to put on a high quality, enjoyable, productive event. I now have a whole year to work through all the new ideas.

 You can connect with Summerpal Kahlon, MD on Twitter @SKahlonMD and request him as a speaker for your next conference or event.

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