I wish I could report on everything that happened at HIMSS this year. Of course, that would be impossible without writing a book (and it would be a really big book). So, as I do each year, I will only provide some high-level impressions about what I saw and heard during the big show in Chicago.
First of all, let me apologize to all the people who stopped by the Microsoft booth to say hello to me only to find that I wasn’t available. My HIMSS schedule consisted of back to back meetings, scheduled every half hour, with some of our top customers in the US and around the world. So while I was technically at the Microsoft booth, I was mostly confined to one of two conference rooms in the back of the booth. When I wasn’t doing that, I was giving a keynote address for various groups or organizations around the massive HIMSS venue. That also means that I didn’t have much time to cruise the exhibit halls, but I did made the rounds quickly on Wednesday afternoon.
So what was my impression and what seemed to be top of mind for the healthcare business and technology executives I met with during HIMSS this year? My overall impression is that HIMSS this year didn’t seem much different from last year. I saw lots of “population health” and “analytics” signs among the usual cadre of EMR and HIS companies. I saw a smattering of vendors offering some kind of wearable tech or solution for monitoring patients at home. There seemed to be a few more companies offering telemedicine solutions. Of note, MDLIVE has teamed up with Microsoft to provide telemedicine services using Skype for Business.
I also enjoyed seeing some cool new 3D, holographic screens from HP and some of their new printers that can titrate complex solutions for researchers. I was fun to see a NASA space suit at one vendor’s booth although I have no idea what it had to do with their business. It was, however, a great attention grabber.
As for what seemed to be top of mind for the majority of healthcare business and tech leaders I met with at HIMSS, I’d say there were two things that were consistently mentioned. One of those was “cloud”, and particularly whether it was now safe to move at least some hospital and clinic workloads to the public cloud. The other was “innovation” and how healthcare organizations could harness technology to improve patient care and lower costs.
When it comes to cloud, healthcare organizations who make the move now can do so with assurance they will not be alone. Customers were amazed to see a new interactive map created by Microsoft showing a state by state listing of healthcare organizations, hospitals and clinics using Office 365, Azure, or Dynamics in the cloud. This makes it possible for these organizations to focus more IT resources on what hospitals and clinics are in business to do—take good care of their patients.
On the topic of “innovation” I shared some examples of what I’ve seen in my travels and how some of the most progressive healthcare organizations around the world have been able to tap into their own intellectual property to create new inventions or services. I also gave examples of how some consumer technologies like Kinect or the new Microsoft Band are being used in health and healthcare as well as how future devices like the HoloLens might be used in health.
HIMSS isn’t the best place for deep dive conversations, but it is a place to begin a dialogue that can lead to some amazing things down the line. I look forward to continuing those discussions with our customer and partners in the months ahead.
Bill Crounse, MD Senior Director, Worldwide Health Microsoft