While attendance was slightly lower than last year, at least 40,510 industry heads descended into the desert of Las Vegas to attend HIMSS16. The five-day event set a marathon pace for informatics news, keynote speeches and educational sessions. What started with a lion's roar of a laser show and keynote address from HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell ended with a desperate need for a nap, at least for yours truly.
As the dust settles and life returns to a semblance of normalcy, Healthcare Dive is pleased to present The HIMSSzies!
Biggest Buzzword: Interoperability
Year in and year out, the industry speaks of interoperability and "talking to one another" yet, time and time again, there seems to be little done in regards in having health data actually flow freely between different vendor systems and/or providers. As Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center's CIO John Halamka noted in his presentation with athenahealth CEO Jonathan Bush, 55% of patients report their medical history is missing or incomplete when they visit their doctor.
While MACRA and MIPS were a hot topic this year, the most talked about concept was interoperability. Whether to retain market share in an increasingly value-based market, to be perceived as team players, or to empower providers, associations and companies are putting more weight behind the often-talked about, slightly-less seen idea of interoperability. To this end, HHS Secretary Burwell announced a major commitment among healthcare industry behemoths toward easing interoperability as well as EHR use. Companies that provide 90% of EHRs used by U.S. hospitals have committed to the cause of interoperability.
The agreement includes three main components: Consumer access, interoperability standards, and information-blocking prevention. It also led many discussions going forward in the conference and there seemed a genuine excitement over the prospect.
And there's also money to be made! National Coordinator for Health IT Karen DeSalvo at a National Coordinator Spotlight session announced the launch of the Provider User-Experience Challenge as an incentive for the development of apps with open application program interfaces.
Biggest Winners: Long-term care, behavioral health and substance misuse care providers.
During a special session from CMS and ONC, Karen DeSalvo and acting CMS Administrator Andy Slavitt announced an initiative to bring interoperable technology to a larger swath of healthcare providers, including long-term care, behavioral health providers, mental health providers, substance misuse treatment centers, and "other providers that have been slower to adopt technology."
The initiative will allow states to request the 90% enhanced matching funds from CMS to connect a wider variety of Medicaid providers to a health information exchange.
This additional funding will enhance the sustainability of health information exchanges and lead to increased connectivity among Medicaid providers.
Government Figure Most Looking to Test Out Potential Standup Comic Career at HIMSS16: Andy Slavitt
Patience is a Virtue Award: Individuals awaiting the CMS' MACRA rule
During the CMS, ONC special session, Slavitt noted CMS was still months away from the proposed MACRA rule. While the rule may be months away and the rule may not kick in until 2019, Arien Malec, ONC Health IT Standards Committee Co-Chair and VP at RelayHealth, told Healthcare Dive providers need to think about the affects of the rule now rather than later. "Every dollar for how you’re going to get paid by CMS is going to change and the measurement year is earlier than you think," Malec said, adding "CMS traditionally — this is the way meaningful use works — measures a program two years before they do the payment adjustment so 2017 would be the measurement year for the 2019 payment year."
Daily Average Steps Taken for One Reporter: 13,875
Most Inspired Presentation: The Jo(h)ns (John Halamka and Jonathan Bush)
During their presentation, two of the more outspoken health IT gurus tagteamed the HIMSS Theater to address attendees on the business implications for interoperability. Halamka stated that more regulations are not needed for health IT. "The tools we need...are here now. We do not need to wait for Meaningful Use Stage 47," he stated.
"You have a business opportunity...there's a lot of medicine that as the stuff gets connected could be rebrokered and repackaged," Bush noted. "The market is driving us [in the direction of interoperability] and the technology and the language making it possible...Opportunity to make money helping other entrepeneurs make money exists today and is possible today! The processing power and the business opportunity for the vendor to selfishly connect to create a bigger lake to fish in exists."
Both Jo(h)ns noted some takeaways for the presentation:
- It’s possible to connect to the entire health ecosystem.
- It’s happening…with or without you. Halamka noted there are 26 different EHRs in the ACO space because of business activity. He added "unless we take that data and put it into care management systems, we can’t survive economically...It is an existential requirement for you to share data to embrace the EHRs [and other health IT tools] or you will die."
- It’s time to replace compliance with conviction.
Biggest Loser: Time and Space
Heard a HIMSS staff at the front door of #HIMSS16 "Are you lost?".. That will be 90% of the healthcare industry— Rishi Saurabh (@rsaurabh) March 2, 2016
Most Creative Use of Water for Marketing Purposes: NextGen
Most Fire Tweet:
What Gave Attendees Footwear Envy: Pink Socks
Tweet: Shoutout to #pinksocks OG Nick Adkins incorporating the Portland airport rug design phenomenon: