HIMSS 2013 brought in
100 more exhibitors than last year
and 32,718 attendants.

HIMSS 2013: 5 hottest trends from NOLA

March 07, 2013
by Nancy Ryerson, Staff Writer
HIMSS 2013, which took place this week in New Orleans, brought in 100 more exhibitors than last year along with 32,718 attendees — all of whom most likely toted iPhones, iPads and other mobile devices. Those ubiquitous gadgets were a major focus of the conference, but so was patient engagement, how to get value from patient data and how to make a return on HIT investments with all of these factors in mind.

These are our top observations from the show, but if you saw something that caught your eye at HIMSS13 that we missed, drop us a line in the comments section.

1. What to do with all this data?

Now that patient data has been digitized, a big question providers should be asking is how that information can be used to improve care and lead to cost savings.

One solution presented at HIMSS13 is "orb" from Philips, a graphical dashboard that sorts and processes clinical data to give a clearer picture of what's going on with a specific patient. It can also visualize patient populations to identify areas that need improvement. Different colored and sized spheres represent areas such as cardiovascular, renal and central nervous system.

"Clinicians are monitoring so many patients, and there's only so much data the physician can take in," Joe Sovak, vice president of marketing for Philips Healthcare North America, told DOTmed news. "This program helps make sure they don't miss something."

2. Nothing about me without me

During Dr. Eric Topol's keynote speech on Tuesday, the nationally recognized cardiologist emphasized the importance of patients at last being privy to their own health information and using modern technologies to save money and make care easier.

Providers are often apprehensive about the patient involvement element of meaningful use initiatives, so vendors have been working to make patient portals as useful and intuitive as possible. Agfa HealthCare released a new patient portal at HIMSS that includes the patient's own medical images. Siemens showed a patient portal integrated with Soarian Scheduling, so patients can see appointment availabilities at hospitals.

3. Bringing in a financial return

In the HIMSS13 leadership survey, 23 percent of respondents said they expected to get a $2 million to $3 million return on their investment for meaningful use stage 1. A recent study of physicians dissatisfied with their return on EHRs shows why vendors are so focused on making those hopes a reality.

Besides cost management tools in EMRs, some companies offer additional tools for financial planning before big decisions are made. Explorys released a tool called National Benchmarks, which provides comparative metrics across clinical, financial and operational data facts from 120 hospitals and more than 100,000 providers.

"COOs and CFOs know time is of the essence when it comes to making these decisions," said Explorys CEO Stephen McHall. "The goal is to be the assimilators rather than the assimilated."

McHall pointed out that facilities that don't meet financial goals will likely be incorporated into larger systems. The National Benchmarks tool aims to help hospitals build the best HIT program on their first try.

4. What about iSecurity?

The HIMSS13 leadership survey also found that 36 percent of health IT professionals cited as their top security concern "securing information on mobile devices." That's up from only 6 percent in 2012. Vendors had plenty of new apps to share, from displaying vital signs on an iPad at Philips to a voice activated virtual medical assistant at Nuance, but the survey suggests that facilities are hesitant to trust portable devices. Hospitals and vendors, such as Henry Ford and Enterasys, are teaming up to secure connections within hospitals and make sure back-up plans are in place to lock-out patient data if devices are lost or stolen.

5. Interoperability steals the show

With an entire Interoperability Showcase and the word passing through nearly every vendor's lips, the importance of how devices and EHRs talk to each other was evident. In the showcase "smart" hospital beds, infusion pumps and patient monitors shared information with EHRs. FujiFilm and TeraMedica paired up to release a new VNA designed to connect multiple departments and gather data in a "patient-centric" way. Dell and Novarad also announced a VNA partnership.