HIMSS 2015. 3 days, 50,000 people, 200 business cards. More coffee than I care to admit.
HIMSS 2015 was a massive event. The exhibit halls were packed with vendors of all sizes, and of course, the large players showed up in force. From EPIC’s Tahoe inspired mega-booth, to McKesson’s 360-degree healthcare in the round, to Optum’s nearly IMAX size screen – there was no shortage of impressive healthcare might.
As you might expect, our footprint was a bit (ok, a LOT) more modest, and we were “strategically” placed behind the IT security exhibit hall, which managed to filter out all but the hardiest healthcare IT leader.
Nonetheless, we had a productive show. We met with some great people and found a lot of excitement for what we are doing. It seems that focusing on the individual nurse is still a somewhat novel concept. That’s not to say that other companies don’t focus on nurses at all, but they are more from the standpoint of trying to manage them as a “resource unit” in the hospital. The idea of rolling up your sleeves and getting down in the trenches with nurses to figure out how to make their day-to-day better, especially their time spent outside the hospital, isn’t a common one. We love being one of the only companies working on this, and from all the nurses and nurse leaders that stopped by our booth – they love that we are too.
So, for those that couldn’t attend, here are some of the key themes, repeated throughout the conference:
Interoperability was the new “Big Data.” It is the concept of getting the various healthcare IT vendors to design their systems with a consistent data structure and a set of methods for sharing that data between each other’s systems. If I need a patient's first name from another system, I should be able to use the same command every time and expect to get the same result. The current lack of consistency has been an enormous headache for healthcare IT teams, who understandably are getting tired of resource assessment lists with hundreds of projects related to system integration. From our perspective as a young company in the space, it would be wonderful to see this come to fruition. Being able to seamlessly integrate with a hospital’s existing IT infrastructure instead of having to skirt around it would be a godsend. We will keep a hopeful-yet-not-optimistic eye on this trend as it emerges over the coming months to see how much water the larger IT vendors want to take out of this particular moat.
Analytics was a major theme (and one we love!) across vendors of all shapes and sizes. This topic cuts across multiple verticals (operations, security, patient outcomes, etc.). While it can feel a bit nebulous at times, analytics can be a pretty exciting topic – at least in our opinion. Most interesting among the various analytics providers was the availability of new data sources – things like wearable devices and smart home sensors – that can start to give a more comprehensive view of different patient populations. We think the implications for home health are especially interesting, as the population continues to age and those of advanced age turn to friends and family to act as their caregivers.
3. Our favorite – text messaging!
Nothing speaks to healthcare’s cutting edge technology like showcasing secure texting. Most of these vendors were playing their highlight videos on VHS (or you could rent the audio tour on a walkman). Seriously though, text messaging is a critical communication method in healthcare – and there are some great vendors out there with very robust platforms (check out Carewire). We will likely use one of these platforms in our product in the future so all joking is tongue in cheek, but it’s a good reminder of the pace at which new technology can be introduced into healthcare.