I sure hope that the beignet makers at Café Du Monde, Emeril and other stalwarts of New Orleans' famed culinary circuit are getting their rest right now because, starting this weekend, tens of thousands of expense account bearing conference-goers will descend on the Big Easy. Personally, I lean toward local eateries that are off the beaten path, but I'll leave my restaurant reviews for another time.


As many of you know, HIMSS13 is just days away. This year's meeting in New Orleans will draw close to 35,000 attendees and 1,123 exhibitors. Earlier this week, HIMSS Executive Vice President Carla Smith told me that she expects three major themes to develop during the weeklong conference:

  • Clinical and business intelligence. "Now that the health care sector has achieved critical mass on health IT implementation, how do we take that data and turn it into knowledge," she said.
  • Mobile devices and mHealth. Clinicians are increasingly using and insisting on being able to use mobile devices, she said. "They are user-friendly; they fit in your pocket or lab coat." Importantly, the industry has to be vigilant about addressing the inherent security risks that come with the convenience of mobility. If security isn't handled well, she said, "It's a showstopper."
  • Interoperability. Stage 2 meaningful use regulations require that providers be able to show that they can exchange information between care settings. There are several educational sessions dedicated to the topic, not to mention the Interoperability Showcase, which has been a mainstay of the exhibit floor for several years now. Here, HIMSS shows how patient records can actually move from one vendor application to another. But it's not just a vendor issue, Smith noted. Providers — physicians and hospitals alike — need to loosen their grips on patient records and be more willing to share information, rather than safeguarding it as a competitive advantage.

I'll be reporting from HIMSS all next week in H&HN Daily. My blogs and video interviews will certainly hit on those three themes, but there are a few other expected highlights:

  • News about a partnership between McKesson and Cerner. Early reports from TechTarget's SearchHealthIT are that the two are forging an interoperability agreement. CEOs John Hammergren and Neal Patterson are holding a joint news event on Monday.
  • Keynote coverage. Eric Topol, M.D., is on Tuesday. He gave a scintillating speech at CHIME's Fall Forum last year. I fully expect this one to be equally as good. Former President Bill Clinton speaks on Wednesday. As I recall, he's pretty good at putting the crowd in the palm of his hand.

I'll also bring you interviews with leading CIOs and maybe a few surprises like ONC officials and others. So, be sure to check out our ongoing HIMSS coverage all next week. If you are in New Orleans, please stop by our booth, 8031, and say "Hi." If I'm not there, leave a business card and I'll try to find you.