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Top highlights: HIMSS 2014 annual conference for healthcare IT

In my last blog, I talked about the announcement on first live deployment of project “Medical Insights” to Accelerate Personalized Treatment for Cancer Patients at HIMSS in Orlando last week. Today, I wanted to share the top highlights from the world’s largest healthcare IT event that was attended by over 37,000 professionals from around the world.

1. Keynotes by Hillary Clinton and Aetna CEO Mark T. Bertolini:

To kick off the event, Aetna CEO Mark T. Bertolini emphasized the need for reform in payment models and in investing in wellness for the chronically ill. However, it was Hillary Clinton who drew the largest crowds for her discussion on the importance of electronic health records and IT infrastructure. Clinton praised HIMSS attendees for being part of the solution in transforming health IT practices and emphasized ways that technology enables better care. She focused on the need for utilizing “good data” in order to make informed decisions, stating, “It’s important to be guided by evidence about what works and what doesn’t, not ideology or past practices, or personally held beliefs.”

According to Bertolini, there are three ways to improve health care:

  • Reform payment systems;
  • Improve care for chronically ill patients; and
  • Invest in overall wellness

2. Big SAP presence:

SAP had a big booth with 4 demo pods highlighting various solutions that we offer in healthcare. About 40 colleagues attended the event and conducted more than 100 onsite meetings. There was our famous “Big Data bus” that was frequently visited by the attendees. As mentioned in my last blog, I demoed “Medical Insights”, powered by SAP HANA for healthcare and received enthusiastic feedback from the attendees. We had a press release and was covered by various publications such as Read it here

SAP presence.jpg

3. Encouraging developments to address the healthcare systems’ interoperability shortcomings:

The challenge in achieving data liquidity between primary, acute and social care settings is shining a light on the limitations of existing healthcare IT systems, developed with a limited core set of functionalities in mind. This is particularly apparent in the EHR segment where wider usability and interoperability were not an original development priority. It’s significant that cloud-based AthenaHealth won KLAS’ best overall healthcare software rating in January this year, beating serial winner EPIC. It’s also a reason why more progressive vendors like Allscripts are gaining traction with new EHR deployments internationally. Below is the infographic highlighting US EMR adoption model that Epic addresses:

US EMR adoption model.jpg

4. Isolated islands of insight will give way to greater orchestration:

The big data and analytics firepower on show from SAP, IBM, HP’s Autonomy, Oracle was much more in evidence this year as well as a more prominent presence from Tier 2 vendors like Information Builders and Qliktech. Multiple EHR companies have also added analytics components to their portfolios. There are a growing number of proof points testifying to the value of advanced big data/analytics products, which mesh disparate unstructured and structured datasets together, such as IBM Watson’s fast developing capabilities and those emerging such as SAP’s Hana for Healthcare and Autonomy’s IDOL. Below is an interesting infographic from IBM:

Infograhic on healthcare.jpg

5. Healthcare system change is shining the light on tech’s potential:

Concerted collaboration between healthcare providers, payers, governments and research institutions is starting to bear fruit. There is growing disruption to the fee for service model, via new reimbursement mechanisms like bundled payments, which is driving investment in payment innovation and in analytics from payers in particular. There is more development and dissemination of best practice in care pathways and change management, particularly in the area of patient safety.

Vendors adept at supporting these multifarious and often complex processes are gaining the best results and the best feedback. Boston University Medical Center’s Project RED (Re-Engineered Discharge) is improving the hospital discharge process in a way that promotes patient safety and reduces re-hospitalization rates. Results are encouraging: a 22% reduction in 30-day all-cause readmission rates and a half- day reduction in the average length of hospital stay for over 65s.

6. HIMSS keynote address highlights 2003-2014 through an infographic:

I believe the graphic below indicates how HIMSS has evolved as the world’s largest healthcare IT conference:


In summary, HIMSS was a great industry event that highlighted and addressed some of the challenges in healthcare. For SAP, it made SAP HANA for healthcare more mainstream.

Twitter: @sajal_agarwal

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