Thursday, April 23, 2015

Our kind of town: Staying social at HIMSS15

At HIMSS15 in Chicago, there were the usual wall-to-wall session offerings, evening events and impromptu chances to meet with colleagues. Increasingly, there is also a virtual space for engagement running alongside the real-life conference action. While social media can quickly turn into a noisy echo chamber, we found that – with the right approach – it enhanced the conference experience.

In particular, the HIMSS15 App proved to be a powerful tool, rather than a gimmick some feared it might be. It made organizing your schedule and appointments much easier, with the chance to compare agendas and link up with other users – a far cry from scrawling things on the back of business cards and folders. 

If you wanted to meet the people and organizations that were most highly engaged in the conference, you could consult the handy social media leader board.  We had the chance to attend the HIMSS15 Social Media gathering hosted by John Lynn – further evidence this whole thing has moved beyond mere fad. 

Across several platforms (LinkedIn and Twitter, in particular), attendees shared useful, real time information so that we could be in two places at once – especially helpful if you were needed to staff a booth. The rules of engagement are simple: to offer a value proposition (not sales spam) and do it in an interesting way. If you've got followers re-tweeting your up-to-the-minute conference analysis or laughing out loud (with you, hopefully), you’re probably in the right ballpark.

Not all business
We came to HIMSS15 to learn and accomplish a number of business objectives, but conferences - especially in a world-class town like Chicago – aren't all work.

We also enjoyed the serendipity of the conference and city. DHIT team members took part in the HIMSS15 Wellness challenge, tracking the many steps we took to cover the 22 football fields’ worth of exhibition space and sharing our experience with other HIMSS15 app users. Our stay at the newly-opened Virgin Hotel came complete with a ride in a Tesla (at right). We got an up-close look at a Verizon robot designed to facilitate care in immuno-compromised  patient settings. And we got to experience a little bit of the Chicago nightlife.

It all served as a reminder for why we exist as a company – to pursue innovation and have fun doing it. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

HIMSS15 Chicago: Winds of change in Health IT

Conferences are tricky things. They’re exciting, chaotic and thoroughly exhausting. But, when that final session comes to a close, it’s an open question whether meaningful connections are made and objectives are met. It can be all too easy to drown in the sea of attendees, sessions and swag.

Luckily, the HIMSS Annual Conference has historically provided a great mix of “big, booming conference in a fun city” and real opportunities for substantive engagement with the industry the conference represents. HIMSS15 was no different. 

Chicago FHIR

Meeting of minds: Dynamic Health IT, HL7 and MaxMD

FHIR-related puns – and the Twitter hashtag #FHIR – were popular at HIMSS. And for good reason, FHIR is ablaze (sorry!) with potential as a major tool in unlocking true interoperability in health IT. DHIT met with Grahame Grieve – the original architect and “man on FHIR.” Our colleagues at MaxMD joined in too, with a discussion of shared goals in these two highly flexible, powerful health IT tools: FHIR as a set of standards and Direct as a transport protocol.

Grahame and HL7 International got in on the FHIR/fire fun by featuring a “Sparky the FHIR dog” Dalmatian at their booth.

DHIT President Jeff Robbins facilitates an impromptu 
discussion of DIRECT and FHIR.

Patient Portals

FHIR was just one of many hot topics (pun intended) at HIMSS15. Patient Portals continue to be much talked about, though with little consensus. Jim Tate posted his entertaining and illuminating article on the “death” of View, Download and Transmit last week. This shift in Meaningful Use policy raises questions about the future of patient engagement. How do tailor portal development for specific patient populations? How do we make patient engagement about population health and patient objectives, rather than arm-twisting? How do we ultimately measure engagement?

Meaningful Use and Certification

There was also substantial interest Clinical Quality Measures (CQMs) and the Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS). While CMS has worked to align the PQRS program with CQMs used in its other EHR Incentive Programs, there are still many obscure details at play that providers and EHR developers need to monitor. 

DHIT enjoyed giving demos and sharing expertise for years in the trenches with CQMs. We were grateful for the chance to meet up with subject matter experts like Tate and Joy Rios, who blogs at HITECH Answers and just wrote a book on PQRS (ABCs of PQRS, Greenbranch Publishing).

DHIT also attended sessions on 2015 Edition Certification Measures and a detailed presentation of Stage 3 ONC Certification. Although our industry is still sorting through much of the aftermath of Stage 2 – particularly the new release of updated/expanded measures for 2015 reporting – make no mistake that prepping for Stage 3 Certification has begun.