Impact Insights

What Happened in Vegas – HIMSS 2016 Takeaways

Janice Wurz

The annual HIMSS Conference is always huge; and when it’s held in Las Vegas, it is a surreal experience. And this year’s event did not disappoint! Overall, the industry themes continue – interoperability, security, pop health, patient engagement – discussed among 44,000 HIT professionals networking in exhibit halls filled with 1,100 vendors in an effort to move our industry forward in its quest for quality.

Once again, I polled my colleagues and here are our Top Ten Takeaways for HIMSS 2016:

1. Interoperability – topping the “buzzword” list again

• HHS kicked off HIMSS with an Interoperability Pledge from 17 major health IT developers, 16 large healthcare provider organizations, and 17 healthcare associations and medical societies. These groups pledged to implement three core principles to reduce information blocking, increase patient access to their own health data, and embrace national interoperability standards, including those related to privacy and security.

HL7® FHIR® (Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources, pronounced “fire”) gained more traction, but it’s likely another year before the standards and toolset mature.

• There’s buzz around the use of APIs, Carequality Interoperability Framework and others.

2. Security

• Security is the number one concern for most CIOs yet very few organizations have a plan in place in the event of a breach.

• Understanding (and ultimately funding) cybersecurity and the importance of a proactive approach is not well grasped by the C-suite.

• The DoD session, Cybersecurity: You and I are the Weakest Links, noted healthcare leading all industries with 29.8 percent of the cyber theft as compared to Retail next at 15.9 percent.

• Impact Advisors’ Healthcare Information Security Adoption Model (HISAM) was well received by CHIME focus group participants as a tool to communicate with board level leadership.

3. Population Health

• Population Health continues to be defined differently by both customers and vendors.

• Some stats shows 67 percent of providers are engaged in some form of (self-defined) population health initiative – most focused on disease management and wellness. Most agree the goal is still around the triple aim: the right data in the right format to the right user.

• HIMSS added Population Health to the “Knowledge Center” with continuous access to small vendor displays and ongoing educational sessions showing resources and providing hands-on opportunities with technology, processes and “connected strategies.” These sessions were bolstered by numerous presentations by Mayo, Kaiser, Inova and others showcasing their journeys and initial results.

• Vendors address “pieces” of the population health management process but no one appears to offer a comprehensive solution, with implementation efforts resembling the early EMR days.

4. Analytics

• Analytics are needed for everything – pop health, clinical transformation, revenue cycle improvement…

• There are many, many vendors claiming to be able to crunch data and provide great dashboards. However, data governance is often lacking due to the way systems are acquired/managed and a lack of understanding for the need to normalize data, the techniques involved, and the effort required; all of which limit the effectiveness of any solution.

• IBM’s “WATSON” is still impressive when it comes to data crunching; artificial intelligence is becoming a reality.

• Some organizations bring analytics under the informatics umbrella to support monitoring current operations as well as improving clinical and financial outcomes.

5. Patient Engagement / Consumerism (Consumer Driven Healthcare)

• With the premise of the patient owns their data, there was exhibitor buzz of a “single patient portal” from the patient perspective. Some solutions anticipate supporting data from multiple providers into “my record” that would also allow the patient to add their own data from wearables or their own entries.

• Which comes first – the relationship or technology to identify/maintain the relationship? (Hint: it depends on who you ask)! If we assume technology, omni-channel patient engagement provides a consistent ‘branded’ experience across all communication media: devices – apps – social media – in-house – at home – on-the-go.

6. Telehealth

• Advancements in technology and consumer demand are leading to a growing adoption – and benefits realization – of telemedicine and virtual care.

• Several presentations showcased the benefits from consumers’ ability to remotely connect to their caregivers, such as: decreased mortality, length of stay, hospitalizations (both acute and LTC), ED visits and total cost as well as improved care for high risk pregnancies, stroke management and telegenetics for underserved populations.

7. Mobility / Wearables

• The wearable market is being inundated with devices capable of bio-sensing with significant advocacy for the use of wearables to collect health-related data by the individual to manage their own health record as well as share with their provider.

• Integration of meaningful data from wearables into the EHR or longitudinal patient record is technologically there (mostly) but presenting the data in a form that is useable lacks maturity, especially amid concern of data overload for clinicians to be able to manage the volume of information.

8. Internet of Things (IoT)

Gaining Buzzword Traction: The Internet of “Healthcare” Things (IoT) is defined as the network of physical objects—devices, vehicles, buildings, and items embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and connectivity—that enables these objects to collect and exchange healthcare data with emphasis on more and more “things” being interconnected.

9. EHR Implementations & Optimization

• Some organizations are still looking to replace their “old” EHRs – either actively considering the decision to change or seeking to be hosted.

• And once implemented, organizations want to use these platforms to provide higher quality and more efficient care – with IT expected to help drive both clinical transformation and revenue cycle optimization efforts.

10. What was missing?

So what about the things that dropped from last year’s HOT TOPICS listing?

Meaningful Use

Refreshingly missing was the chatter about MU stages 1, 2 or 3; however, we did get a glimpse into the MACRA (Medicare Access and CHIPS Reauthorization Act of 2015) regulations coming this spring. The MACRA framework moves from measuring clicks to focusing on care; quality, cost and clinical practice improvements will be key factors in determining how Medicare physicians are paid.


Thankfully – no glaring references to ICD10! (Other than HIStalk’s Dr. Jayne in regard to her two broken toes)! Looks like we survived theY2K-like event with minimal scarring.



3 thoughts on “What Happened in Vegas – HIMSS 2016 Takeaways

  1. Bill Morgan says:

    Janice, Great summary. Thanks.


  2. david cox says:

    Janet – Thank you for the well written insights on HIMSS2016. I was unable to attend this year so your takeaways are great to keep up on current directions.

    David Cox

  3. Mark Watts says:

    Thank you for the summation. We have so much to do to improve healthcare in the US. Your focus on solutions will benefit us all.

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