HIMSS 15: Looking Back on this Year’s Top Trends in Healthcare IT

Now that HIMSS 15 is officially in the books, I wanted to reflect on some of the big takeaways from this year’s show. HIMSS is the largest healthcare IT event in the world. This year’s event, held in Chicago, attracted 43,000 attendees all interested in a single goal: Improving patient care with technology.

3D printing continued to be a big trend this year. In the exhibit hall, you could see demonstrations of 3D-printed splints, and sit in on discussions about 3D-printed orthopedic joints. It’s pretty amazing to think that hospitals will be able to print artificial heart valves, prosthetic limbs, and a range of other medical objects themselves in the very near future.

Rural clinics and mobile healthcare teams could run 3D printers in far-flung locations, greatly improving patient care worldwide.

Patient engagement—or the environment in which medical professionals deliver great patient experiences—was another big topic of conversation.

Avaya’s work in healthcare IT is primarily around delivering better patient engagement. We exhibited a number of solutions, including telemedicine hardware and software, mobile video using WebRTC, Open Network Adapters (which make connecting new medical devices to the network easy and secure) and contact center technology for consolidated scheduling, transfers and referrals and micro-billing collections.

Data interoperability was the third and final big theme of the show. The latest medical devices are capable of automatically reporting patient data, autonomously adjusting medication based on patient health and sharing data with other networked medical devices.

While everyone agrees on the end goal, the industry hasn’t agreed on how to get there. It seems like it’s hard enough to get all the devices inside a single health system on the same page. It’s even more complex when a patient transfers from one hospital to the next, taking potentially incompatible electronic health records with them.

It’ll be difficult to achieve true interoperability without robust industry standards, and the open APIs developers need to build interoperable data-sharing platforms.

Andy Slavitt, Acting Administrator for the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid said interoperability was one of his department’s 3 key goals for healthcare technology. He even suggested incentivizing vendors to work together to solve for interoperability.

In his keynote address, former President George W. Bush talked about his legacy of healthcare IT, focusing on an executive order he signed on April 27, 2004 establishing the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. That office was tasked with implementing electronic health records nationwide by the year 2014.

His vision, he said, was that someone knocked unconscious in a car accident could get picked up by paramedics who would scan a bracelet on the patient’s wrist to get access to their complete medical records. The industry has made significant strides toward that goal, but hasn’t fully digitized records across the continuum of care.

Thanks to everyone who came and visited Avaya at HIMSS 15. We look forward to seeing you all again at HIMSS 16 next year in Las Vegas!