LAS VEGAS—The HIMSS Conference & Exposition is big enough that no matter how much time you spend there, you can’t help but feel as though you barely scratched the surface.
This year’s event was no different, with almost 42,000 attendees, but let’s review some of the highlights of the first four days. [Two non-health care-centric speakers are keynoting today, including NFL star quarterback Peyton Manning.]
For one, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology is trying to get electronic health record vendors to work more closely together, with major players involved making promises in three specific areas tied to interoperability, including bolstering consumers’ access to their own records, refusing to block information from other systems and implementing national interoperability standards. Health & Human Services' Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell added her muscle to the effort by making this announcement as one of two opening day keynoters. The other keynote session, with Dell founder and Chairman Michael Dell, did not add that much to the conversation, according to attendees with whom I spoke.
Followers of H&HN’s HIMSS coverage know that despite the prominent role many women play in health care — St. Luke’s Health System CIO Deborah Gash is a good example — there still exists a huge gender gap in pay, according to a HIMSS survey.
HIMSS released another survey Thursday that indicates hospitals and health systems have cost data available to them but aren’t utilizing the data to the degree they feel they should. Thirty-two percent of respondents formally gather costs, but don’t review them on a regular basis, according to the survey. Another 9 percent don’t evaluate their costs at all.
Cybersecurity was a major thrust of this year’s conference. Early on, Marc Probst, the chairman of CHIME and CIO of Intermountain Healthcare, made a case for providers working more closely together when battling the threat of computer attacks on data.
And Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center CIO John Halamka took a 40,000-foot high perspective with his attempt at grading the health IT effort so far at a pre-conference session. His measured and thoughtful grading approach regarding health IT overall contrasts with my anecdotal and gut-feeling method of grading HIMSS this year; yet, we arrived at the same destination: B-.