Spotlight on HIMSS: Four Game-Changing Themes Rocking the Healthcare Industry

By Jason Taylor, SVP of Growth

I have to admit – I was a bit skeptical of going to HIMSS so quickly after VIVE. Would it pack in the same energy? Would people really attend two of our industry’s marquis events on opposite coasts within less than two weeks of each other?

TL;DR: Yes.

Let me start by saying, quite fairly, that the HIMSS conference is a completely different animal than VIVE. With four times the attendance, and a much wider focus, HIMSS can be an overwhelming thing, if you let it. And let’s face it – Orlando conferences can be a beast. It’s like Las Vegas. It looks close. It isn’t. Everyone got their steps in this week!

I had some expectations going in, and they were more or less right, although I had the order wrong.

Four Themes that were SPOTTED AT HIMSS (iykyk):

AI Will Continue to be Everywhere – But People Have their Eyes Open

There were about 600 people registered for pre-conference events on AI, and the fervor didn’t stop there. People can sense the potential, and everyone is looking for the easy button to deploy it.

But at the same time, some very qualified and very smart people (I’m looking at you Dr. John Halamka and Dr. Jonathan Chen) are warning us about being responsible in how we use it. Factors like data integrity, hallucinations, and even health equity can be magnified if AI is rolled out too broadly and too quickly.

But the value in easing administrative or non-expert work is very compelling.

In my view – if AI can help clinicians be clinicians, and focus on the patient, good things can happen. But we have work to do, to make that a lot smoother.

Healthcare CFOs are Still in Charge

There’s a bit of a divide in the industry between health systems that have an innovation arm, and those that don’t.

Put another way – there are systems looking to innovate, and even commercialize technology, and there are systems trying to survive. On Wednesday, in the span of two hours, I spoke with two CIOs who told me they had fully equipped capacity in their facilities that was unused because of a lack of clinician staffing, and mismatches of service line staffing to case presentation.

What’s the impact of this? Solutions are being evaluated on how they relate to basic financial goals. Help me open beds? You go to the front of the line. Vaguely tell me you can help me save me time in my processes? Stand over there, and we’ll call you when we’re ready.

The Call (for disruption) is Coming from Inside the House

After VIVE I wrote about the difference between tech companies leading with technology and those leading from a healthcare perspective. At HIMSS this is even more apparent. Companies with industry-agnostic technology who are trying to align to use cases in healthcare are just not getting it done. This is for a couple reasons, one being the long sales cycles. The other reason is there’s tremendous effort in understanding that every health system has unique needs … and oftentimes those needs are incompatible with tech companies who need to push hard for quarterly sales targets and rapid lead generation/qualification.

To be clear – there’s nothing wrong with the major tech companies trying to figure out how to serve the healthcare market, but we shouldn’t expect them to be the disruptors.

Healthcare is in need of self-disruption. People inside of healthcare need to lead the charge – there is simply too much dependency on aligning multiple stakeholders at the same time to make change happen.

One virtual nursing vendor I met with this week literally had a nurse walk me through the product and how it would be used. What parts would be great, and what nurses would complain about, and how the product roadmap was being adjusted to cover the gaps, to make it as smooth as possible. The entire story was told from the POV of the people who would be asked to use it.

Cheesy Movie Quotes FTW

I’m left with an image of Kevin Costner in 13 Days, saying “If the sun comes up tomorrow, it’s only because of the will of good (people).”

Healthcare is full of good people, and their passion, motivation, and love for what they do is what ultimately will be the difference we need. I saw evidence of it every day at HIMSS.

Clinicians are driven to fight for our industry. They may face huge obstacles, but they aren’t afraid to fail. At the end of the day, it’s about providing better care to patients–no matter what it takes.

Back to back conferences, and I’m exhausted. But I’ve never been more energized.