I’m back in Seattle from the windy (and somewhat sleety) city. Now that I’ve had a reasonable night’s sleep, I’ll share some perspectives on the HIMSS 2009 conference in Chicago.
There were two football-sized exhibit halls of stuff to see. I won’t claim to have seen it all since the Microsoft team kept me pretty busy with press, presentations, and meetings with customers and partners from around the world. None-the-less, it wasn’t too difficult to notice some themes. The signage for just about every vendor on the floor boasted of “connected”, “interoperable”, “unified communications”, or mentioned “economic stimulus”. That would be true of Microsoft as well, except that I believe we can actually deliver on that promise with solutions that are more innovative, better integrated, more scalable, more intuitive, and better aligned with what most healthcare organizations around the world can afford.
At last year’s HIMSS there was a great deal of buzz about personal health records and web services platforms for personal health data from Microsoft (HealthVault) and Google (Google Health). In fact, I recall both companies getting very good booth traffic at HIMSS last year. This year, my impression was a bit different. I visited the Google booth and took a picture on my cell phone. I then ran back to our booth and took another photo. I think the pictures speak for themselves not only about interest, but perhaps commitment to the industry.
To say that we were pleased by the amount of traffic in our booth would be an understatement. From the opening of the exhibit hall to its close each day, people stool literally shoulder to shoulder soaking up information about the Connected Health Platform, Unified Communications, Microsoft Surface, Microsoft Amalga, Microsoft HealthVault, and solutions for Operational Excellence. There were also cool new devices to see including a lab-pocket sized Tablet Computer from TabletKiosk; a shirt-pocket sized computer from OQO, and a very stealthy, desktop replacement from PDS.
Of course I’m around this technology all the time, so it takes something special to really capture my imagination. Such was the case, when I stumbled upon a rather tiny exhibit in the far corner of the South exhibit hall. The vendor was CSI and their solution is an industrial-strength kiosk called the CSI Managed Health System. The kiosk provides 12 non-invasive testing devices, captures the patient’s complete medical history and history of present illness, medications, allergies, etc. It can establish a video link to a live physician, and provides a rich array of patient education resources. Future plans include being able to dispense blister packs of medications from the kiosk at the conclusion of the patient visit. Right now, the target market for CSI is primarily corporate employee health services, retail outlets, and rural health settings. The company is also considering kiosk placement in airports and possibly hotels. I can certainly envision a huge opportunity for meeting the health needs of remote or rural populations in developing countries.
Back at the Microsoft booth, our Surface Computing demos were a huge draw. I particularly liked a solution that helps clinicians assess motor control and learning skills in children with neuro-muscular disorders. Another showed integration between Microsoft HealthVault and Allscripts in what is called “Practice Concierge”. Yet another solution from Microsoft partner, Infusion Development, helps physicians and patients collaborate on medical test results, diagnoses, treatment plans, and educational materials. If you would like to learn more about that particular solution, you may wish to view the video we just released as part of my on-going series of articles, audio-casts and videos that we call House Calls for Healthcare Professionals. The video runs about 22 minutes and you can watch it right HERE on HealthBlog.
The annual HIMSS meeting is a great place to touch the future, but in reality, our future is here today.
Bill Crounse, MD Senior Director, Worldwide Health Microsoft Corporation