IT Forefront

Our biggest takeaways from HIMSS18

by Naomi Levinthal, Andrew Rebhan, and Allyson Vicars

The Health Care IT Advisor team made our way to Las Vegas earlier this month for HIMSS18, where we heard about some of the biggest themes in health care IT. Below, we've rounded up some fast facts on the conference and some reflections on the topics that caught our interests.

HIMSS fast facts

HIMSS, which ran from March 5 to 9, had almost 44,000 attendees who were ready to talk about the latest trends in the health care industry.

According to HIMSS, roughly 23% of attendees were registered as "IT professionals," while 30% were registered as part of the C-suite.

As usual, the exhibition floor was packed with organizations trying their best to stick out among the crowd, including:

  • 1,355 exhibiting companies;
  • 336 first-time exhibitors;
  • 100+ startups;
  • 415+ thought leadership sessions; and
  • 8 specialty pavilions (e.g., cybersecurity, interoperability, innovation).

Insights from the exhibition hall

Members of our Health Care IT Advisor team spent the week walking the exhibit halls and trying to keep up with all the latest news. Below are a few themes that caught the eyes of our experts this year.

Ye Hoffman, Tony Panjamapirom, and Naomi Levinthal:

CMS often unveils significant policy updates at HIMSS, and this year was no different. Administrator Seema Verma announced several new initiatives to address the health care industry's interoperability issues and improve patients' access to their electronic health information. Of note, CMS plans to overhaul the EHR Incentives Program (i.e., Meaningful Use) and the Advancing Care Information performance category under the Merit Based Incentive Payment System. Ultimately, the agency intends to increase focus on interoperability and value-based care. We expect clarity on the exact changes in rulemaking over the next few months. As always, our team will publish analyses of how provider organizations will be impacted and recommendations in response to the changes.

As CMS quality reporting programs evolve over time, we have worked closely with our member organizations to identify successful practices in how they leverage IT to reduce reporting burden and boost incentives. This year at HIMSS, we partnered with Northside Hospital System to facilitate a conversation based on their experiences and approach to an IT-driven quality reporting initiative. If you were unable to attend the session at HIMSS, we will hold a recap of this presentation on Thursday, April 19 at 3 p.m. ET. Be sure to register to hold your spot.

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Greg Kuhnen:

My tour-de-HIMSS was brief this year, and the AI and Machine Learning special event was easily the highlight of the show. Our research has already documented several real-world examples of improved clinical care, efficiency gains, and better risk management that AI-powered predictive models can deliver. I was pleasantly surprised to see more promising applications, as well as consideration for their practical challenges. In one noteworthy session, Robin Frady of Grady Health discussed how she nudged leaders in different service lines toward better use of predictive modeling, netting significant and quantifiable benefits for the health system. In another, Michael Gao and Mark Sendak of Duke Health talked about how Duke has overcome some of the challenges inherent in deploying machine learning techniques in production.

Allyson Vicars:

This year HIMSS Analytics unveiled its brand new supply chain maturity model (H-SIMM), made in the image of their widely used EMR Adoption Model (EMRAM). Cost control is at the core of health system strategy for 2018 and has spurred organizations to reexamine their external spending, which can account for 30%-40% of health system spending on average. While most organizations have already done significant work to extract savings from supply chain processes via better prices and optimized supply mix, our recent Advisory Board research shows there's still some juice left in the squeeze. More advanced supply chain maturities will include automation of solutions and integration of supply chain strategies into clinical delivery. HIMSS Analytics' new supply chain maturity model is currently undergoing validation and will be available summer 2018.

Andrew Rebhan:

The pre-conference Innovation Symposium set out to define innovation, showcase successful programs, and illustrate how to effectively sustain innovations. Aneesh Chopra, president of CareJourney, started the symposium with a discussion of how to best open up data access and best practices to developers and innovators across the public and private sector, highlighting use cases from Proctor and Gamble to Apple Health. In the closing keynote, Healthcare 2.0 co-founder Indu Subaiya had a similar message: Health care is becoming a learning health system that is increasingly interconnected and data-centric, and innovation can occur only with greater collaboration among stakeholders. We need to fundamentally change how we collect, use, and share data—opening it up for broad use to help support research and speed up the development of new approaches to public health. There are still many barriers to innovation, but no organization should feel like they must go at it alone—strategic partnerships will be key to address the industry's many complex and resource-intensive challenges.

Bethany Jones:

I'm placing "making life easier—not harder—for clinicians" as my No. 1 theme from HIMSS18; it's a topic I care deeply about, and one the industry is now recognizing as a pervasive issue. Clinician burnout is a serious, global issue. There's plenty of evidence regarding clinicians' frustrations with IT and how it creates headaches and wastes time. What the industry hasn't been able to demonstrate is how health care IT can reduce cognitive burden, decrease clinical workloads, and increase clinicians' sense of control over their work lives. Health care IT has a tremendous role to play—from leveraging AI and embedding advance analytics into workflow, to innovative, IT-powered solutions—it's certainly top of mind for providers and vendors alike to make things easier.

Doug Thompson:

2018 was the year of analytics at the HIMSS conference, as represented by booth signage and conversations, education sessions, and overall buzz. Acute care EHRs were less of a priority, but population health, post-acute care, social determinants of health, and other non-hospital topics were trending. Finally, AI and machine learning were hot, with real-world applications replacing the fuzzy generalities of past years.

 

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April 19: Learn how Northside Hospital System leverages IT to optimize quality reporting

Providers must satisfy requirements in multiple CMS regulatory programs, such as the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System, Meaningful Use, and Inpatient Quality Reporting programs. Health care organizations face stiff penalties and reductions in their reimbursements if they do not report successfully.

At the same time, high performance enables organizations to potentially earn incentive dollars. Join us for a webconference on April 19 as our experts provide a framework and actionable insights to operationalize an IT-driven quality reporting strategy.

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