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Gaining a new appreciation for health IT at the 2017 HIMSS conference

This blog post is part of our Essential Guide: HIMSS 2017 conference coverage and analysis

Attending the 2017 HIMSS conference — my very first foray into the largest annual health IT gathering — was daunting, to say the least.

Navigating the massive Orange County Convention Center and adjoining Hyatt Regency, hundreds of exhibitor booths, as well as juggling interviews and social media, made me realize that perhaps my multitasking skills have been woefully overstated.

In tackling the CIO Forum Sunday, my S Health app alerted me that I had broken my previous record for steps with 17,838 steps. Not surprisingly, I set my previous record of 16,841 steps back at my first health IT conference, the Connected Health Symposium, in Boston in October 2016.

In the midst of the “HIMSSanity,” I gained a new appreciation for health IT and the innovations that are changing healthcare. From artificial intelligence and cognitive computing to precision medicine, the technologies on display and discussed during the sessions at the 2017 HIMSS conference have the potential to help providers improve how they deliver care and help patients take more control of their own health.

At one session, Greg Caressi, vice president of the healthcare and life sciences group at Frost & Sullivan, talked about the role of mHealth in healthcare. While mHealth allows patients to better manage their health, not all physicians think patients are capable of that task. In the U.S., 81% percent of patients said they could manage their own health, Caressi said, but only 41% of doctors agreed.

Healthcare VC year over year

That statistic seemed to be reflected in venture capital spending as well. In 2015, venture capitalist spending broke down as follows:

  • Healthcare consumer engagement – $629 million
  • Wearables and biosensing – $499 million
  • Personal health tools and tracking – $409 million
  • Payer administration – $263 million
  • Telemedicine – $236 million

In comparison, in 2016, venture capital spending broke down as follows:

  • Genomics and sequencing – $410 million
  • Analytics/big data – $341 million
  • Wearables and biosensing – $312 million
  • Telemedicine – $287 million
  • Digital medicine devices – $268 million

Future role of tech in health IT

One other takeaway from the 2017 HIMSS conference came during the keynote of Joel Selanikio, M.D., on the role of technology in improving care. Selanikio offered a provocative quote from digital medicine researcher Eric Topol, M.D., author of The Patient Will See You Now.

Topol said he didn’t see EHR vendors like Epic and Cerner being around in 10 years — a prognostication that seemed at odds with those giants’ unmistakable presence in the exhibition hall. Selanikio disagreed and said he thinks they will be, but maybe not in the same form in which they currently exist.

Selanikio’s advice to the audience, and one that those in health IT would be wise to heed, was: “Be adaptable.” Who knows how the 2027 HIMSS conference will look like compared to the 2017 HIMSS conference? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

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