Preparing for HIMSS 2020 – Recap of 2019 Conference

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Recap of 2019 and What to Expect at HIMSS 2020 Conference

With 90% of the exhibitor booths already sold out for HIMSS 2020 Conference, here’s a recap of this year’s event so you’ll know what to expect in just 12 short months. And with the tone set for the year by this enormous event, you’ll likely continue the same topics at majority of the upcoming Healthcare Information Technology Conferences.


The sheer size of the HIMSS Conference was overwhelming

This was definitely THE biggest healthcare IT event of the year. HIMSS 2020 will be even bigger so prepare to stand out.

Even the Uber driver on the way from the airport told me he has never seen anything like it… And I arrived when the exhibitors arrived, the day before the real storm. UberHealth and Lyft even pitched in for a sweet 50% OFF ride shares.

To get from one session to another was a good 20-30 minute walk. Combine that with a few people you meet up with at the sessions, and you’d definitely miss the next one, unless you rented a Segway. If you were not carefully planning each session at the event, you probably missed out on a ton of opportunities. The networking events were also very far away from each other, so you had no choice but to prioritize. 

Even the exhibit hall was so big you could not see the end.  



The HIMSS Conference welcome reception on Monday night was spectacular. It took a while to find some colleagues, but it was a blast. Everyone came with open hearts and minds, ready to network.

Not to mention the incredible leads! Hottest networking topics were interoperability, legacy data management, workflow automation, and cloud-based healthcare IT systems so the GRM team was definitely having a blast.

This was only the first of over 40 networking sessions over the next 3 days.


Key Takeaway #1 from HIMSS Conference: “Data sharing will drive the next generation of cures”


This year’s HIMSS was fun and engaging at the core. Nearly every opportunity was well planned.

Even the keynote session opened with a rendition of “We are the Champions” playing on the theme of the conference celebrating all the innovators pushing for healthcare to change.

But this event also started off with sobering facts.

The opening keynote drove deep the first takeaway, similar to all the other HIMSS conferences from years past: “data sharing will drive the next generation of cures” – Dr. Christopher Ross … and even though data and AI are driving innovation, true innovation won’t happen until all the data is taken out of silos and legacy archives.


Key Takeaway #2: There are decades of data stuck in unusable format. For 2020 HIMSS Conference, this will probably be the biggest topic.


Legacy archives full of old patient records are one thing. But as new technology companies create more data and don’t have a solid plan how to integrate all that new data into existing workflows it just means more workflows and more silos are being created. From the technology adoption point of view, this is a deal-breaker for many healthcare organizations.

 So be sure if you’re a new startup that you consider this in your go-to-market strategy.

And most importantly “majority of our health outcomes are determined by factors outside medical care” Seema Verma, CMS. Where we live and how we live, even though we have

plenty of gadgets to gather data, is not yet integrated into the healthcare IT systems where that data would really matter. When we’re able to connect the dots there will be so much more opportunity to advance health care.


More takeaways:

From the first keynote address and the first educational sessions it was evident that there are many innovators, but healthcare in the U.S. has not seen a major change in the following aspects:

  • Interoperability is the top problem. Healthcare organizations still have a major issue connecting systems to each other. Heck… even the wi-fi in the exhibit hall was a disaster. Syncing problems, impossible download times, error messages, time outs, outdated version, security flaws, or the wrong adapter … sound familiar?  
  • EMR systems are still inadequate because of lack of accessing legacy patient records or being able to perform all the necessary duties for a healthcare organization, so a switch is almost unavoidable for many.
  • Big data is still in silos that can’t be readily available. Whether it’s stuck in a fancy telemedicine technology, or in a legacy EMR, if it can’t be plugged into existing workflows, it’s not much use. I had eye-opening discussions with physicians and CMIOs forced to recreate patient records from scratch because they can’t access critical data.
  • And if big data is still in silos, how can it be interpreted? How can it be analyzed to improve the healthcare system, not just for the patient treatment algorithms, but also on the backend administrative processes.
  • Unstructured data, stuck in physical paper documents and images, is just dying to be extracted and used to improve patient care.
  • Physical patient charts are still a norm in many patient care settings. They have to be manually captured, manually edited, manually verified, and within each manual process there’s room for errors. A ton of errors. Not being able to access charts, get complete picture of patients’ records, and get properly reimbursed for treatments is still a prevailing topic in many discussions.
  • Revenue cycle management, when relying on physical charts, is now a near-impossible task. Not being able to transform the cycle through digital workflows should be a priority, but when Timely Claim Denials can’t be effectively managed, all you can do is write off the loss.
  • Digital transformation is a big step forward, but what are you doing with the thousands of patient records still in boxes or on shelves? And once all the records are in digital format, how do you make them to be part of the healthcare IT workflows?


Now you may have a better understanding why GRM was exhibiting at HIMSS for the second year in a row. Go to the full overview of all of GRM’s products and services highlighted at HIMSS, that address interoperability and workflow challenges



Women in Healthcare IT “stole” the spotlight at HIMSS


Photo by @TeladocHealth



Between the innovators, administrators, doctors, nurses, IT professionals, marketers, and educators it was clear that women are celebrated as “Champions of Healthcare.” It was a pleasure to see that the “equality silos” are finally broken.

Health is social and it’s booming. Since HIMSS 2018, I noticed triple the activity on LinkedIn and Twitter. HIMSS 2020 will be a lot more social as more people realize it’s a way to make lasting connections. It was a truly great use of technology, especially to keep track of all the networking opportunities and to catch the occasional cinnamon-roll-hug at the #HCLDR meetup 🙂 

Between the activists, bloggers, social media gurus, and networkers, it was impressive to see how open people are to not just do business but support one another. Partnerships were forged and alliances sealed.


The bottom line is this conference will be even bigger, and hopefully wi-fi will be better. But just in case, plan on an alternative source of access to data (no pun intended … or is it).

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