HIMSS16 highs: 26 attendees on their most exciting moments

Every year thousands flock to the annual HIMSS meeting to display products, test new technology, hear the field's thought leaders present and put their fingers on the pulse of the health IT industry.

Here 26 HIMSS16 attendees offer thoughts on their highpoints of the meeting.

Editor's note: Responses have been lightly edited for clarity and concision.

The cloud

Joshua Newman, MD, CMO, GM Healthcare and Life Sciences, Salesforce (San Francisco): Based on the reactions to our presence, the partners who showed Salesforce technology and integrations in their own booths, and the energy we saw, it felt like a new moment at HIMSS. Whereas the past it was an exclusively traditional conference, with every major vendor showing their own wares, this year felt more about cloud, partnerships and integration and the collective work we all must do to unite technologies and promote a marketplace of ideas and the very best solutions.


Ellen M. Derrico, Senior Director of Global Product Marketing, Healthcare and Life Sciences, RES Software (Radnor, Pa.): I was positively impressed by the quality and quantity of conversations and connections HIMSS fueled! Security was top-of-mind for many attendees, given all the recent news on malware, ransomware and phishing attacks. I am very glad I had the opportunity to present with Phil Alexander of UMC Health System [in Lubbock, Texas] on this topic, as it led to a lot of great questions and conversations, as well as more connections.

Data and analytics

Earl Arbuckle, Senior Product Manager, Central Logic (South Jordan, Utah): During my four days at HIMSS in Las Vegas, I noted an overwhelming sentiment across the board that data is king. Data for interoperability. Data for security. Data for improved patient care. All this data must be streamlined and freely, yet not publicly, shared. It's clear the next 36 months will be transformative in our industry.

Bill Fox, Vice President, Healthcare and Life Sciences, MarkLogic (San Carlos, Calif.): The big takeaway for me at HIMSS this year was the optimism. The last few HIMSS were dominated by the "issues" and "concerns" arising from meaningful use requirements and ICD-10 implementation. This year at HIMSS was different. The conversations focused on how to move past vague talk about big data and into real data integration and implementation of consumer-focused, higher quality care. Everyone was anxious to understand how they could quickly and cost-effectively start to use all their data to drive their business. It seems we have reached a positive tipping point where healthcare will start to operationalize their data and is ready to move into the next generation of technology and innovation.

Mike Kim, Director, AArete (Chicago): I was particularly impressed with NorthShore's Actionable Analytics presentation. Their dedication to predictive modeling and integration with user-friendly technological platforms exemplified how a health system can improve their operations and serve the public's health. For example, the "What's Going Around" mobile application is a great idea to use their own data to track infectious diseases for internal use and public consumption.

Karin Ratchinsky, Director, Healthcare Strategy, Level 3 (Bloomfield, Colo.): In the past, there were a lot of conversations about the past at HIMSS. This year, we had a lot more conversations about where we will be in five to 10 years. The true highlight was seeing how technology is going to improve care. Data analytics is changing care and flagging population health trends. With the combination of digitized health, analytics tools and the pressure from ACA regulations, we are starting to see a ton of innovation, and this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Tapio Tolvanen, CTO, Co-Founder, BetterDoctor (San Francisco): HIMSS16 signaled the deep need for higher quality doctor data. After asking HHS' CTO Susannah Fox what is being done about provider directories, the answer was clear to me: This fundamental data problem requires everyone in the industry to solve, not just HHS or a start up like us. Consumers have trouble finding doctors they need, and it starts with the data they use online.

Digital health

Morris Panner, CEO, DICOM Grid (Phoenix): Digital health is where the cool kids are. HIMSS had more non-healthcare technical folks than ever before. It is part of a trend. John Doerr, one of the leading venture capitalists, has said all the best entrepreneurs are trying to fix healthcare IT. HIMSS16 was filled with people who had spent years bringing cloud to other enterprises and are now immersed in solving interoperability challenges and ensuring data rich transfer from imaging to other types of big data. Traditional assumptions are out the window. New workflows to support value-based care and personalized medicine are giving rise to a new generation of companies. There is no better time to be in healthcare IT.

The Internet of Things

Sandy Murti, Global Healthcare Lead, Impinj (Seattle): It was powerful to see how IoT solutions are being integrated by many healthcare organizations, as executives continue to recognize the important cost-saving impact the technology can have.   


Keith J. Figlioli, SMART Advisory Committee Member, ONC Health IT Standards Committee Former Member, Senior Vice President of Healthcare Informatics, Premier (Charlotte, N.C.): It was clear at this year's HIMSS conference that the drive toward interoperability was the focal point. It's so refreshing to see industry stakeholders working together and committing to overcome the challenges providers face in breaking down the silos that impede data fluidity. While we're pleased to see consensus on the demand for interoperability, there is still much more that needs to be done.

Tom Giannulli, MD, CMIO, Kareo (Irvine, Calif.): One of my key highlights of the HIMSS conference every year is to determine the "industry trend of the year" through conversations and presentations at HIMSS. Interoperability was noticeably the largest area of focus at this year's conference, and I believe it should continue to be as HIMSS continues to act as a true barometer of progress in this area each year. Throughout the conference, I noticed more large and aggressive software company attention in the space via Salesforce, SAP SE, IBM, etc., which should drive more innovation and change.

Michael Leonard, Director of Product Management, Healthcare, Commvault (Tinton Falls, N.J.): HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell announced a commitment to interoperability in electronic health record management, and many large providers have rallied to support the effort. The announcement could be a major step forward for the industry, and it should lead to better informed physicians and patients, as well as stronger delivery of healthcare services. There is an opportunity for healthcare partners to collaborate to improve clinical data management solutions which will make patient data more accessible to both patients and the physicians treating them.

Shafiq Rab, MD, Vice President,  CIO, Hackensack (N.J.) University Medical Center: For the greater good of our patients, government, private sector, public sector, vendors and peers came together for one cause: to make healthcare information technology interoperable using FHIR technology.  The HIMSS conference provided a unique opportunity for networking and influencing each other to enhance access to healthcare through the use of mobility, cloud technology and faster technology. 

Neal Singh, CTO, Senior Vice President, Engineering, Caradigm (Seattle): Interoperability was a hot topic at HIMSS16. HIMSS had multiple healthcare Internet technology vendors demonstrate end-to-end interoperability scenarios that were a huge hit with the attendees. For example, Caradigm, MEDITECH and Greenway collaborated for an interoperability demo that used real systems. The demo scenario showed a diabetic patient first visiting an emergency department (MEDITECH system), and then visiting her primary care physician (Greenway system). Next, the patient was enrolled into a diabetes management program using Caradigm's Care Management application. Finally the primary care physician approved the plan of care and shared it with the patient.


Milisa Rizer, MD, CMIO, Professor, Family Medicine, The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center (Columbus): HIMSS16 started for me with the stimulating physician IT symposium and ended with a great presentation on leadership by Peyton Manning. The conference was filled with stimulating accomplishments by Davies Award winners across the country. It was also a great opportunity to share our accomplishments with other institutions that are challenged with the same issues.


Shawn Lemerise, Vice President of Business Development, CipherHealth (New York): It can be hard to differentiate between tech companies, so it was really refreshing to see smaller, innovation-focused areas within HIMSS dedicated to showcasing only the smartest and brightest young companies. One major theme we heard from providers and tech companies alike was customer centricity, treating the patient as a customer. There is also increasing desire from providers to work in close partnership with technology companies, working off of a ready platform and building off of it.

Carrie Nixon, Esq., CEO, Nixon Law Group (Richmond, Va.): I thought the most interesting, and useful, moment at HIMSS16 came when CMS' Andy Slavitt told a theater full of health IT professionals "[We] are now often in a place where technology is hurting doctors' ability to serve patients well. This must change." It may not have been a popular sentiment among the crowd, but it's true, and Slavitt also emphasized that this is something that can be fixed.

Population health

Jay Anderson, Regional Vice President, Sales, Northeast, Central Logic (South Jordan, Utah): Throughout the week at HIMSS, several population health management trends emerged. First, five to 10 percent of patients with multiple chronic conditions consume half of the healthcare dollars and are best managed with daily remote monitoring of vitals via telehealth. Second, many ACOs and networks are successfully managing their general population with predictive analytics. Finally, a large group of patients who were recently discharged but not severe enough for daily monitoring are at risk for readmission. To ensure their vitality, creative engagement solutions are still needed.

Shaun Miller, Medical Director, Inpatient Clinical Technology, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center (Los Angeles): I was particularly interested in attending the HX360 innovation pavilion where I was able to interact with start-up companies who have fresh, enthusiastic eyes from across the globe tackling issues like chronic disease management, patient engagement and population health. It's also very exciting to see the growth of some of these companies from year-to-year at HIMSS as they move from this pavilion into the main exhibit halls as their solutions mature.

Revenue cycle management

Jim Hamilton, Healthcare Industry Marketing Specialist at Canon U.S.A. (Melville, N.Y.): There was a lot of buzz about improving the revenue cycle. For example, Stuart Hanson, chair of HIMSS Revenue Cycle Improvement Task Force, reported a basic tenet of the revenue cycle is that you cannot create the patient financial experience of the future without the back office functionality to support it. Further to that, others shared insight on how providers today can implement new industry standard best practices to support the revenue cycle of the future.

Stuart Hanson, Senior Vice President, General Manager, Consumer Payments, Change Healthcare (Nashville, Tenn.): Providers at HIMSS16 overwhelmingly commented on the need to reengineer their revenue cycle tools and processes to cope with the "double whammy" of rising patient financial responsibility compounded by rising costs to collect from their patients. As such, they responded very well to the recent findings and recommendations of the HIMSS Revenue Cycle Improvement Task Force, a group committed to helping the industry define a vision for improving the patient financial experience overall.


James Edwards, CEO, Language Access Network, Carenection (Columbus, Ohio): The defining moment at HIMSS16 was when participants realized that digital health and telehealth are no longer technologies of the future. These technologies are the new medicine of today and are pushing the industry to re-engage the patient and re-connect them to their providers.

Ranya Habash, MD, Board-Certified Ophthalmologist, CMO, Everbridge (Glendale, Calif.): It's amazing to see how much HIMSS has grown over the past few years. The increase in telehealth and connected health IT solutions was exciting. One thing that stood out to me at this year's show that I haven't seen in the past was the emphasis on improving patient outcomes through care team coordination and secure mobile collaboration. That's a testament to the exponential growth of sophisticated health IT for the future of medicine.

Nabeel Meghji, Vice President, Product Management, Healthgrades (Denver): Based on presentations, exhibits and meetings I attended, I saw a major emphasis around the "connected health" space at HIMSS this year. Some key takeaways centered on this concept and being at the tipping point of virtual visits. Consumers are expecting the same convenience in health as they receive in other industries, and virtual visits are saving patients an average of five hours. Providers now have a revenue model given the legislation changes. There are an increasing number of payers and employers offering this to members to keep them healthy/working and out of expensive options like urgent cares and emergency departments.

Alan Pitt, MD, Professor, Neuroradiology, Barrow Neurological Institute (Phoenix), CMO, Avizia (Reston, Va.): In the years past HIMSS has been all about the data and was largely a show for the EMR vendors. However, this year's meeting showed the strong emergence of the telemedicine industry. Telemedicine and telehealth vendors were out in force and sessions were overflowing. Coming out of this year's show it is evident that this space is maturing from a "nice to have" to a "have to have."

Value-based care

Mitchell Morris, MD, Global Leader, Life Sciences and Health Care, Deloitte (New York): HIMSS is starting to reflect the convergence between plans and providers as we transition to value-based care. As Medicare Access & CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 imperatives begin to take shape, solutions are emerging that begin to meaningfully advance our capabilities to manage clinical and financial risk.


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