10 Surprising Finds at the HIMSS16 Conference
Over the course of five days at HIMSS16, several new directions emerged for the healthcare IT industry. The HDM staff gathered its thoughts on the most significant trends from discussions and interviews at the industry’s biggest show. We feel these hold significance for HIT this coming year and beyond.
An interoperability jumpstart from the feds
Federal agencies have been setting out a strategy to achieve interoperability, but the effort got a boost on the first evening of HIMSS, when HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell announced a large private coalition of EHR vendors, healthcare systems and professional organizations promising new efforts to jump-start data sharing. The coalition will make information more accessible to patients, stop information blocking and use standards-based information exchange. It remains to be seen whether federal agencies will be able to enforce compliance with the promises.
HIMSS data reveals the extent of gender pay gap
At the conference, HIMSS released details of the 27th annual HIMSS compensation survey, and as part of the analysis, the organization revealed that women in the survey earned $101,000, compared with $126,000 for men. Women HIT senior executives earn 63 percent less than men in their first year in the position, and take 15 years to catch up to the same pay level as their male counterparts.
Time to make pop health purchase decisions
At HIMSS16, providers came to make strategic and technology decisions about applications to support new care delivery models. This was a continuation of a trend observed at HIMSS15 in Chicago, when providers began to see the convergence of population health management and analytics, as well as the melding of clinical and revenue cycle tools.
Security sessions show rise in anxiety
Sessions on information security were packed, filling larger rooms than in previous years, and for good reason. The fear of cyber attacks filled most seats. Attendees were urged to throw away security checklists and establish a culture of compliance. Angela Rose, director of HIM Practice Excellence at the American Health Information Management Association, asserts that an annual risk analysis is no longer sufficient. “If your risk analysis is more than three months old, it’s out of date.”
Providers not prepared for value-based payment
Findings of the HIMSS Cost Accounting Survey released at the conference suggest that provider organizations do not have a lot of confidence in their capabilities to face the challenges ahead with value-based care. In fact, only 3 percent of respondents believe their organization is <I>highly prepared</I> to make the transition from fee-for-service to pay-for-value. “If we are to realize the projected cost savings of moving from fee-for-service to pay-for-value we will need to act in a thoughtful way when building the infrastructure and business processes to support these new payment models,” says Pam Jodock, senior director of HIMSS health business solutions. 
Genomics as the future of precision medicine
The Obama Administration’s Precision Medicine Initiative is still in the early stages of rolling out, and it will take time for a business model to emerge, says Bill O’Connor, CMIO at Orion Health, an interoperability and analytics vendor. Costs for sequencing are declining rapidly—the first sequencing in 2001 cost $100 million, and the cost is down to less than $1,000 says futurist Jack Uldrich. “By 2020, it could be more expensive for you to flush your toilet than it will be to sequence your genome,” Uldrich predicts.
Insurers will want proof that providers deliver quality
With accountable care moving faster than many expected, insurers increasingly will want evidence of quality improvements in patient care before they cut checks, says Jim Beagle, president and CEO at BridgeHead Software, a data management and storage vendor.
Looking for a future for mobile health apps
The buzz continues to rise about mobile health apps, because of the potential to engage patients more actively in their own care, but the field needs more work to determine which apps work and which don’t, says Lygeia Riccardi, former ONC senior policy advisor for consumer eHealth, and now founder of Clear Voice Consulting. There’s a long way to go—only 17 percent of consumers were using mobile health apps in 2015, according to research firm Rock Health.
Patients are moving beyond engagement as telehealth enables them to take charge of their care.
For example, American Well introduced the latest version of its enterprise telehealth solution that lets patients and providers invite additional participants to a live video visit in real-time. Intended to streamline the appointment process when multiple providers are involved, it’s caused traditional healthcare providers to question their role in managing patient care as they have in the past, said Blain Newton of HIMSS Analytics.
Attendance eclipses 40,000
Figures announced by HIMSS midway through the conference listed 40,519 attendees; final figures are likely to be higher. More than 1,200 vendors exhibited on several levels of the exhibit hall. If you thought you knew where you were in the expansive exhibit areas, surprise—you were probably lost.