Reflection on HIMSS18: Health Tech Innovation + The Promise of Tomorrow

By Matter

Recently, I had the pleasure of representing Matter and six of our clients at HIMSS 2018 in Las Vegas. If you’re not familiar, HIMSS is one of the largest healthcare technology conferences in the country, bringing in more than 40,000 attendees ranging from physicians and executives to marketing & PR folks, and even press and government personnel.

At Matter, we strive to identify how our clients fit into their respective industries, what they can discuss around the “latest trends,” and how to increase their brand presence in the market. In a space like healthcare that is highly complex and competitive, it can sometimes be a challenge to constantly find ways to put our clients in front of people that will listen. With shows like HIMSS, which thrive on BIG news, BIG companies and BIG booths, sometimes it leaves little room for the smart but not-so-big teams to get a word in. This year’s competition was tight, but Matter’s teams were able to get some quality discussions lined up.

Aside from having the opportunity to meet and staff interviews with existing clients, walk the floor, and even attend a networking event (or two), there were also hundreds of interesting sessions to check out. In one of my favorite sessions, the Administrator of CMS, Seema Verma announced the “My HealthE Data” initiative which is focused on increased transparency between providers and patients’ medical records. In another, CEO of American Well Dr. Roy Schoenberg discussed the exciting movement around telehealth – where it is in Washington and what’s ahead for patients who want to see their doctor via their smartphone. During the opening keynote, Executive Chairman and Former CEO of Google, Eric Schmidt, pleaded with attendees to let go of past operational processes and move to the cloud.

It was clear, from all of these big announcements, discussions and sessions, everyone had one common goal in mind: improve patient care.  While we still have a long way to go, many of the forward thinkers at HIMSS are responsible for technological innovations which have empowered the industry to make huge strides forward.

So, how are we going to get there? For starters, let’s focus on the top trends that came out of the show that will certainly continue to make a splash throughout the remainder of 2018:

  • Interoperability: Connecting the dots across the healthcare continuum with technology and creating a seamless operational workflow. In a connected world, the power of your technology is often enhanced or limited by its ability to connect and speak with other key technologies.
  • Telehealth: Telehealth isn’t exactly new, but it has been limited to a few key players. Today, almost every digital health company is integrating or working to implement telehealth technology – from healthcare networks to insurance providers and EHR technologies. As previously mentioned, during Schoenberg’s session, he noted there has been a significant increase of telehealth technology, with over 50 bills circulating through Congress today related in one way or another to telehealth adoption. While there is still work to be done in this area to take this technology mainstream, it is hard to argue with the value of instant virtual access to care for patients.
  • Data Sharing: This is always a sensitive topic – particularly for companies aggregating sensitive patient information. However, from Seema Verma’s presentation and other initiatives surrounding HIMSS, we are entering a new era of data sharing and transparency. Recent legislation has introduced steep fines for data blocking in healthcare and it seems like the industry has finally hit a point of realization that the value of data that lives in a silo is severely limited.
  • Streamlining EHR Technology: Today, there are approximately 600 EHR solutions on the market. If you think back to interoperability, that goal seems less achievable when looking at that number. However, conversations buzzing through HIMSS seemed to point to a future where fewer EHR vendors survive and with CMS’ requirement for health organizations to adopt EHR systems established in 2015 or newer, more systems will slowly disintegrate or consolidate. This will help streamline the workflows being transferred between EHR technologies and other digital health solutions, improve provider transparency and ultimately patient outcomes.
  • Jumping up to the Cloud: An interesting trend that’s not necessarily new but was a major conversation at the show this year. Keeping with its legacy, healthcare has been extremely slow to adopt cloud technology and solutions that will help streamline data, make it more accessible to anyone, anywhere and make interoperability possible. 2018 may be the year that healthcare finally makes a concerted move to the cloud.

From a communication’s standpoint, and from a general patient’s perspective, it was refreshing to walk through the many floors of booths – big or small – and experience such a heightened focus and awareness of the patient. Whether or not it’s due in large part by the push from CMS’ Merit-Based Incentive Program (MIPS) or payer dollars tied to outcomes, we are making strides in the right direction towards improving the overall quality of care in this country.

Interested in learning more about our healthcare client work? Check us out here.