I’m up before the day has even dawned thanks to a stuffy hotel room and an inability to instantaneously adjust to the time difference here in Vegas. This will be at least my sixth HIMSS (not including the few hours I spent at the last HIMSS in Atlanta as a complete newbie both to the conference and industry), and I’m glad I got here a day early so that jet lag will hopefully wear itself out by the time the conference truly opens for business on Tuesday. I am so glad HIMSS will be in Orlando for the next several years.
Aside from connecting with readers and sponsors, which might be hard to do given the dungeon-like location of our booth, 11228, in Hall G, I don’t have a list of must-see sessions or exhibit hall meetings this go-round. The big keynotes hold little thrill, and I’ll unfortunately be on my home when the one session I do truly want to attend – It Takes a Community: Deliverying 21st Century Coordinated Care for Those in and Out of Uniform – with VA Secretary David Shulkin, MD takes place. When it comes to themes for this year’s show, I have a feeling we’ll all be playing plenty of buzzword bingo. (I’m kicking myself for forgetting to print out the card Mr. H put together last week.) I also predict that while vendors will be touting concepts and capabilities like AI, precision medicine, and [insert your buzzword of choice here], attendees will be shopping for far less sexy things like telemedicine and behavioral health add-ons.
I will admit that my interest will be piqued by companies touting blockchain capabilities, despite the fact that HIStalk readers voted blockchain the most overrated technology. (Check out HISsies winners here.) I received at least 25 press releases from companies touting such capabilities ahead of the show. I’m tempted to give my time only to those exhibitors who have solid use cases on hand, of which I predict there will be few. Companies like Change Healthcare, PokitDok, SimplyVital Health, and Patientory come to to mind as companies that may have customer success stories.
I should add that my interest in blockchain isn’t strictly tied to healthcare. Several family members have decided to invest in a cryptocurrency mining rig, and so the attendant blockchain concept has lately been a hot topic at family gatherings. I don’t understand all the ins and outs, but want to learn more. I find the evolution of the whole subculture fascinating. (As typical with tech, it’s dominated by “blockchain bros,” as this New York Times article points out.)
Perhaps the folks at Reaction Data can shed some light on how blockchain best fits into healthcare. They don’t have a dedicated market research report on the subject, but I bet it’s coming.
I do plan to highlight as many vendors as I can that have incorporated charitable giving into their show-floor activities, so please let me know via email or tweet if you come across any that I should check out. Datica Chief Data Officer Mark Olschesky will donate $1 to HIStalk’s Donors Choose efforts for every person that attends his 30-minute presentation on HIPAA/GDPR for developers on Tuesday at 12:30 pm in the Developer Innovation Lab on Level 1.
On my dance card today – ambling around the Venetian/Sands to get a feel for where everything is and hopefully run into a few familiar faces. Athenahealth has invited me to an opening-night event that will somehow incorporate VR, which I’m excited about for the novelty factor alone. Plus, I’m hoping to corner some of the top execs for their personal take on what’s going on with the company right now, especially given the activity of competitors like EClinicalWorks, which is making no bones in the pre-HIMSS media blitz about its intent to enter the hospital market.
I did get the chance to bend new Athenahealth chairman Jeff Immelt’s ear about the company’s trajectory. He says that, “In terms of storms that I anticipate Athenahealth and all players in the HIT industry will weather – it’s a going to be a ‘value game.’ In a market landscape post-government incentive, vendors will need to showcase and prove the value they can bring to the markets they serve.”
When it comes to growing the company, Immelt believes it will come down to listening to customers and delivering on that aforementioned value. “At GE, I was constantly trying to make a big company act smaller,” he explains. “Now Epic and Cerner are the ‘big guys.’ They’re the long-time incumbents and they’ve been masterful in navigating and establishing themselves in healthcare during the first wave of digitization. However, the companies that sustain market position or find new ways to gain market traction are those that deliver value and unleash the industry to fundamentally better ways of operating, sharing information, and collaborating.”
When it comes to HIMSS – and health IT – Immelt has been there since the beginning: “I’ve had a twenty-year love affair with healthcare and have watched the formation of healthcare IT from the beginning and seen HIMSS since it could’ve been held in a high school gym. I’ve seen firsthand from the likes of doctors, care staff, and healthcare leadership teams that they’re largely dissatisfied with the industry’s operational and technological current state. This is especially true when I compare healthcare with other industries. Healthcare has experienced its first wave of digitization and is primed for the next wave. I fundamentally believe that the companies that will have the most impact on an improved future for healthcare are those that combine a platform infrastructure, with a set services enabled by technology, and then sell their offerings in a way that are clearly aligned with delivering actual results and measurable value. I see this in Athenahealth’s model.”
I have a few other evening engagements planned after the VR fun, some of which may be curtailed depending on my level of fatigue. I doubt I’ll make it to the Pub Night hosted by Emids/Encore, but you never know. HIMSS has a way of making one footloose and fancy free with evening schedules. I tend to RSVP for far more activities than I could possibly attend, deciding on what events to attend based on how far away venues are from each other and whether I can coerce a buddy or two into party-hopping with me.
I’ve never had personal safety issues in Vegas – or at any conference for that matter, but I know they occur far too frequently, as the results of Mr. H’s latest poll can attest. Alcohol-infused networking events may be a contributing factor, as this article points out. I learned a long time ago – by watching several supremely drunk co-workers make fools of themselves at a company outing – that drinking while on the job, or even amidst co-workers during non-working hours – can lead to watercooler stories that take a long time for everyone to forget.
That being said, stay safe, have fun, and enjoy the #HIMSSanity.