HIMSS 2019, With Great Interconnectedness Comes Great Responsibility

Florida is always a perfect pick for a mid-February escape but for over 45,000 professionals, Orlando was the place to be for the annual Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society Conference (HIMSS).

Touted as the leading health information and technology conference, people from all over the world attended the event and this year’s themes included cybersecurity for interconnected medical devices, latest trends in telemedicine and consumer-driven payment platforms.

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Although this year’s convention saw the typical tally of information technology, information systems and healthcare-specialized data analytics vendors – there was an increase in companies offering telemedicine, integrated payment platforms and cybersecurity products and services.

The main speakers circled similar themes and not surprisingly, they are closely linked with one another. Alternative payment models are supporting earlier patient discharge decisions. When it comes to reimbursement, new practices of “value-based” purchasing and care protocols are connected which allows performance improvements to be quantified. One such example is that supply chain management is being successfully integrated with clinical practice.

Another popular topic was the role of telemedicine as outpatient programs becomes the preferred method of care. Bob Monteverdi, global healthcare solutions leader for Lenovo, reinforced how the idea of telemedicine is expanding. “What used to be just, “How do we care for someone who’s not here in our facility? Is continuing to grow, despite the fact that virtual care is a relatively new technology,” he said. “The definition just keeps growing very, very rapidly.”

With the advent of digitized patient records and the internet of medical things (IoMT), cybersecurity has taken on a new urgency as more data is being communicated amongst an increasing number of devices before being downstreamed to other systems such as EHR, record-keeping programs and billing systems.

An ever-increasing number of patient medical devices are communicating with mission-critical health systems and a wider spread means more area vulnerable to attack. As health systems struggle to keep up with the changes, professionals were taking a keen interest in this year’s selection of cybersecurity vendors as evidenced by the long lines at these booths.

If Uncle Ben was a C-suite health leader, he could capture the spirit of this year’s convention with a simple quote: With great interconnectedness, comes great responsibility. Healthcare is a three trillion dollar industry and despite all the diversity in service and product, HIMSS ‘19 headliners all came back to that same point.