HIMSS19 Recap: Turning Vision Into Action

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One year after joining the HIMSS family, Healthbox was thrilled to participate in HIMSS19. In the wake of another successful HIMSS Global Conference & Exhibition, the Healthbox team is left thinking about what’s next for healthcare innovators. While advancements in both the public and private sectors demonstrate significant progress, there is still work to be done to reinvent care delivery for the better.

The tone for the week was set on Monday, when HHS proposed regulations authored by CMS and ONC that aim to free data, empower patients, and drive innovation in healthcare. These themes flowed into Tuesday morning’s opening keynote, entitled ‘Will Consumer-Directed Exchange Disrupt the Healthcare Marketplace?’ which featured an energizing panel discussion by Aneesh Chopra, President of CareJourney, Karen DeSalvo, MD, Former National Coordinator for Health IT, Michael Leavitt, Founder of Leavitt Partners, and Seema Verma, Administrator of CMS. In her speech that same evening on ‘Interoperability and Patient Engagement,’ Verma put it bluntly: “The idea that patient data belongs to providers or vendors is an epic misunderstanding. Patient data belongs to patients.” These words reverberated through the halls of the Orange County Convention Center for the remainder of the week, as providers, payers, and vendors sought to understand their roles in this new frontier of healthcare.

Neil Patel, Healthbox and Rasu Shrestha, Atrium Health at HIMSS19.

As data blocking nears its fate as a thing of the past, it becomes increasingly clear that the future of healthcare belongs to the innovators. Cloud-based technologies and artificial intelligence (AI) applications dominated many of the conversations on the exhibit floor and paved the way for several large announcements by top industry players. Google Cloud announced a partnership with Flywheel to leverage its advanced data warehouse and machine learning API for medical imaging research. Providence St. Joseph Health unveiled its use of a virtual assistant platform called Saykara to reduce physician burnout. Cerner debuted Chart Assist, a productivity tool targeting the same issue. The week was full of numerous other announcements of this scale, setting the stage for an exciting year ahead.

Back in the education sessions, similar trends echoed. During ‘The Intersection Between Interoperability and Value-Based Care,’ John Doerr of Kleiner Perkins mused, “We should run to the cloud – not walk.” In ‘Big Data Healthcare: A Leader’s Story,’ Rasu Shrestha of Atrium Health praised AI for its ability “to normalize the signal-to-noise ratio so our deeper human focus is on the real issues.”

Ultimately, this dialogue over the course of the Global Conference illuminated one key takeaway for provider organizations: disruption is necessary to remain competitive in an ever-changing healthcare environment. However, it is key to have a plan in place for this disruption – as Michael Schmidt of Orlando Health’s Strategic Innovations team put it in his presentation with Healthbox Director Callie Patel, “Innovation in and of itself is not a strategy.” Instead, health systems should start by identifying the problems they wish to solve. In doing so, innovation becomes purposeful rather than an excuse to join in on the disruption.

To this end, several sessions at HIMSS19 focused on strategy development for healthcare executives interested in leveraging innovative technologies. From creating a digital patient experience strategy to ensuring innovation is tied to enterprise level goals, the breadth of presentations on this topic was indicative of its broad importance in today’s healthcare landscape. In order to drive change, organizations must embrace and cultivate innovation. Healthcare leaders must turn vision into action in order to realize the benefits of disruptive technology on patients, providers, and the health system at large.

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