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A Hundred Miles at HIMSS16

The annual HIMSS conference brings healthcare information management professionals together for four days of keynote speakers, educational presentations, roundtables, focus groups and a wide variety of vendors. This year there were about 42,000 attendees - a small city's worth of HIT professionals - converged at the Sands Expo and Conference Center in Las Vegas. The event is a bit overwhelming, even for experienced HIMSS attendees - it's a constant sea of people, networking from dawn until late night, and thousands of vendor booths to visit.

The conference brings together various communities within healthcare as well. The opportunity to stretch and learn about things outside one's own area of expertise is one of the most compelling reasons to attend. Accroding to HIMSS, interest groups include:

  • Clinical & Business Intelligence Community

  • Connected Health Community

  • Emerging Professionals Community

  • Federal Health Community

  • Healthcare Cybersecurity Community

  • HIMSS Executive Institute

  • HIT User Experience Community

  • Health Information Exchange Community

  • Innovation Community

  • Nursing Informatics Community

  • Physician Community

I didn't walk 100 miles this year, it just felt like it. I think I racked up five or six miles per day of walking, no credit on my pedometer for the hours spent standing and talking with vendors, colleagues and newly made connections.

There was the usual overload of buzz words this year - but I think of them like a living word cloud. The more times I see the same phrases and keywords, the more I see the critical mass thinking of the conference. This year focused on patient experience, big data/analytics, population health, mobile solutions and innovation. This is where healthcare IT is headed in the next couple of years. This is no surprise, these are the topics we're all thinking about, but it's interesting to see how the focus has changed over years (and HIMSS) past.

As a healthcare IT leader, I look for ways to bring the information I learned from HIMSS to my organization and to my teams. This year's topics are much bigger than just my teams, bigger than the IS department overall. So, as a leader, I was focused on how I can leverage what I learned at a broader organizational level.

How this information translates into IT teams is not always clear. The applications teams have a more straight-foward path. An application that has a specific function can be directly tied to patient care or business systems management. Infrastructure teams, like systems and storage teams, for example, have a less direct connection to these objectives. The infrastructure folks are weighing private and public cloud options, understanding what a hyper-converged data center looks like and how that translates into supporting the overall goals of the organization. All these are important aspects of delivering care in today's healthcare delivery organization (aka HDO), but not all tie directly to the big buzz words at HIMSS16.

I'll certainly leverage the relationships I created or cultivated at HIMSS. There are so many people working on similar problems that it's always helpful to reach out to others to see how they're solving problems. The discussion less often results in new "a-ha" moments as much as it results in a deeper understanding of the problems and the drivers. I may not come away with answers, but I'm able to ask better questions.

Did you attend HIMSS16? If so, what were your take aways?

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