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Embracing Risk at HIMSS

By Lee DeOrio

As the annual HIMSS gathering grows to unprecedented heights (will next year’s get-together require use of Orlando’s north hall, the conference’s former gathering space before attendance mushroomed?), the number of participants willing to take risks is following suit.

Technology start-ups are making inroads and noise even as the industry giants continue to loom large. Information blocking was a hot topic on the exhibit floor and in the hallways, where the general consensus was a big thumbs-up for the federal government’s efforts in that area.

However, several experts I spoke with questioned whether it was possible for the many agencies to coordinate their efforts. We shall see.

Embracing risk of another sort were sessions about value-based care. Most of the speakers focused on how data analytics can be key to unlocking the statistics to succeed in a population health environment. One of those sessions was also the source of my favorite fun fact of the entire conference: Starbucks spends more on health care than coffee beans.

Despite it being common knowledge that health care costs are out of control, the image of Starbucks’ financial officers discovering their ledger balances seemed oddly out of tune with the company’s business struck a chord.

What also struck me during the conference was a very un-HIMSS-like emphasis on clinical documentation. Even in sessions devoted to other topics, there were mentions of how important it was that providers emphasize the power of clinical narration. For example, a discussion on voice assistants wondered whether it was possible to marry clarity and brevity when it came to patient records.

It was refreshing to hear about the nuts and bolts of care at a conference more known for its pie-in-the-sky perspective of HIT. Whether that’s the case next year remains to be seen.

— Lee DeOrio is editor of For The Record.