HIMSS15 wraps up today and 42,000 health IT nerds will make their way home from Chicago to ice their feet and digest a week of #HIMSSanity networking and announcements. Healthcare Dive was on-site throughout the week, meeting with hospital CIOs and vendors (and, okay, sort-of-not-really-but-kind-of stalking Karen DeSalvo). Here were the most talked-about moments of healthcare IT's biggest annual event:
What people were talking about
Uproar over the change to patient engagement in proposed MU Stage 3 rules
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' new draft meaningful use rule, released Friday, drew some virulent criticism for its proposal to reduce the requirement that providers have 5% of their patients use technology to electronically download, view and transmit their medical record—to just a single patient. On Sunday at HIMSS, former federal health IT coordinator Dr. Farzad Mostashari broke the code of silence by saying that the proposed rule should be withdrawn. He called on patients to demonstrate to the agency that there is demand for data access by asking their providers for electronic copies of their health records. Rasu Shrestha, UPMC's chief innovation officer and president of its Technology Development Center, told Healthcare Dive that he thought the provision was a "misstep."
During a Q&A after national coordinator for Health IT Karen DeSalvo's announcement of $1 million in new grants (more on that in a minute), reporters brought up the furor. DeSalvo stressed that the agency is still committed to making sure patients have appropriate access to their own data and that the rule is still categorized as "proposed" and therefore is subject to the current comment period. She repeatedly emphasized that the shift has to happen on a cultural level, rather than a solely technological one.
She was a little more explicit on Wednesday, telling Modern Healthcare that, "I would be delighted if there were a maelstrom of requests for people to want to have access to their electronic health information and that not only spurred conversation but action."
"Where we are at ONC, and where I'm at personally, is [patients] having real, meaningful control over their health information, electronic and otherwise," DeSalvo said.
Judy Faulkner declined to hit Jonathan Bush in the face with a pie
Faulkner's diplomacy was probably to the disappointment of some. Bush was voted the Industry Figure In Whose Face You'd Most Like to Throw a Pie in the eighth annual rendition of the HISsies, IT blog HIStalk's annual awards series. The pie was given to Faulkner, who was accepting the award for Best Leader of a Healthcare IT Vendor or Consulting Firm. Faulkner ended up handing the pie off to an audience volunteer to do the honors, but the end result was the same for Bush. (HIStalk report's that Faulkner blamed her reluctance to pie Bush because as a pie lover, it would be "an insult to the pie.)
Spotted: Bush darting out of the HISsies party—rumored to involve epic dancing, pun (sort of) not intended—to return to the athenahealth shindig at the Hard Rock, notably without washing his face first.
IBM's sweeping series of announcements
On Monday afternoon, IBM made a bunch of meaty announcements that all add up to one thing: The company is trying to corner the market on data from wearables, probably the hot topic of HIMSS on the tech front. The number of Apple Watch app announcements alone this week was staggering: Cerner, Epic, the Mayo Clinic, Vocera, Anthem (with CareEvolution), Medisafe, athenahealth and others. And the interest was evident on the provider side as well: Shrestha showed up to a meeting wearing a tracker. Intermountain CIO Mark Probst told Healthcare Dive that while wearables aren't quite there yet in terms of producing meaningful, actionable data, the day is coming.
IBM announced that it has acquired two companies that bolster its ability to extract meaningful data from the glut of personal health information pouring out of these still-new devices and it has created both the company and the cloud platform to aggregate, analyze and ultimately share that data securely.
The company announced:
- The acquisitions of leading population health management software provider Phytel to help bolster the company's analytics offerings; and of big data cloud service Explorys, a former Cleveland Clinic spin-off.
- The launch of IBM's new Watson Health unit. To be headquartered in Boston, MA, Watson Health is a dedicated company arm to help healthcare organizations employ meaningful analytics to improve outcomes. The unit includes the development of the secure Watson Health Cloud.
- New, non-exclusive partnerships with Apple, Johnson & Johnson and Medtronic to leverage information collected from personal health devices.
That athenahealth deal with Trinity Health
A few hours before J-Bush got pied in the face, athenahealth announced that Trinity Health will begin leveraging athenaOne, the company's EHR, practice management and patient engagement services, in some of its physician network offices beginning in July. This is a big deal for athenahealth (according to what the company told Healthcare Dive, it's one of the biggest it has netted so far). The agreement marks an important step in the company's strategic push into the inpatient market—it's not difficult to see how success in Trinity Health clinics could lead to deployment in the inpatient setting.
ONC announced $1 million in new grants, HIT reporters geek out over Karen DeSalvo sightings
Karen DeSalvo could be spotted throughout the conference, speaking at sessions and making appearances at events like the #HITchicks tweetup on Tuesday to discuss the role of women as patient advocates. Healthcare Dive overheard DeSalvo referred to as "something of a rockstar" at least twice throughout the week.
(Noted: Solid event coverage for #HITchicks by HIStalk's Jenn Dennard, who wrote, "It didn't take long for the 'booth babe' conversation to take off, with one audience member shouting out HIStalk for bringing attention to the unfortunate trend a few years ago, and consistently calling out those companies that choose to hire pretty faces in tight-fitting spandex to shill their products.")
HIStalk also reported what the respected blog refers to as "an interesting rumor from a fairly good source": That DeSalvo reportedly will leave her HHS position in the next few weeks. HIStalk's source said that Micky Tripathi has already turned down an offer to serve as interim.
On Tuesday, DeSalvo also announced $1 million in new grant programs to support community projects for the Community Interoperability Health Information Exchange Program. The new program is open to a wide range of providers, including those not eligible under EHR incentive programs: long-term and post-acute care providers, behavioral health providers, individuals and their caregivers, safety net providers, public health, social service, emergency medical services and other nontraditional caregivers.
All the lines for everything were not okay
One might expect the biggest complaint from HIMSS15 to be frustration over interoperability woes, but in fact it was a different kind of bottleneck: Taxi lines and the line for Starbucks. With only a handful of Starbucks on-site, lines 50 to 100 people deep quickly formed as caffeine-deprived health nerds struggled for access. Ditto for the cab lines to leave the conference center.
What people were tweeting at #HIMSS15
Best phrase yet "HIPAAnoia" at #HITsm— Keith W. Boone (@motorcycle_guy) April 14, 2015
From the tweets about caramel popcorn and magicians and Breaking Bad booths at #HIMSS15, this thing sounds like Coachella for health nerds.— Sy Mukherjee (@the_sy_guy) April 13, 2015
The exhibit hall, which is buzzing with noise and blinking with bright lights, is a monument to alert fatigue. #HIMISS15— Darius Tahir (@dariustahir) April 13, 2015