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.

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