The HIMSS conference was in Orlando, the home of DisneyWorld, last week and it was indeed like an amusement park for health IT professionals. So many attractions: vendor demos to view in the exhibit hall, concurrent education sessions, and so many colleagues, clients and prospects in one place that it’s difficult to not suffer information overload. And, I didn’t even mention the receptions and parties (most of which I was too drained to attend).
Meaningful Use = Content + IT
Unlike some of the IT professionals at the conference who felt that HIMSS11 lacked the level of creative innovations on display in past years, I was excited by the progress made in building the infrastructure that will enable a new class of data-driven innovations. Granted, it was a bit repetitive to have so many vendors touting their ability to help providers meet Meaningful Use requirements and demonstrating what looked like the same dashboard for reporting core quality measures. But looking beneath the surface to consider how much progress has been made in the past 12 months in shifting the focus from the technology to what can be done once content flows through the technology platform gave this data geek reason to be optimistic about the future. In fact, I use the word “exciting” twice in this video interview I did with Liza Sisler from Proficient at HIMSS.
Among the highlights for me at HIMSS11 was the Interoperability Showcase, which I found both extremely useful and rather mind-blowing. The Showcase was useful in understanding a variety of use cases where standards are being applied—mostly in pilot programs—to exchange, aggregate, and analyze data. The mind-blowing aspect relates to the sheer number of agencies and IT consulting firms working on pieces of the overall infrastructure and regulations, coupled with the realities of our not-so-united states that result in lack of nationwide master indexes and formats. See Keith Boone’s post called Putting the Lego Together to get a sense of the current state of standards for HIE.
Translating research for clinical decision support tools
I was also pleased to attend the Elsevier press briefing at HIMSS11 where they demonstrated their Smart Content system that builds automated bridges between Elsevier’s extensive body of research information and their clinical decision support (CDS) tools. Reconfiguring existing research knowledge that largely resides in textual formats for use in clinical applications is a major undertaking and it’s encouraging to see that the largest publisher of research journals has made significant progress in this regard. On a wider scale, the research community is making progress in reporting results that can more easily be extracted for further analysis (e.g., ClinicalTrials.gov current reporting formats), but crosswalks between research specialties and different types of media will be needed for the foreseeable future, especially as more collaboration occurs between researchers.
Social, mobile, local
The HIMSS conference itself is a perfect use case for the value of social and mobile media. (See Jane Sarasohn-Kahn’s terrific presentation at HIMSS on this topic.) Without my smart phone and Twitter, I would never have been able to connect with as many people as I did. Even with these social, mobile and local tools, I managed to miss a few people due to meeting overruns and technical glitches (i.e., connectivity problems in the massive convention center). But, being able to connect with dozens of people from my online community at an event that had over 31,000 attendees — and share information with the broader online community who weren’t at the conference—clearly demonstrated the value of social, mobile and local media.