The annual HIMSS conference this year was in New Orleans, LA. While there has been much chagrin regarding the city’s ability to support 35,000 or so tech executives and salesmen, it went relatively well. I arrived on Monday morning, just in time to witness the opening of the exhibit floor.
The convention center is well suited to such a large exhibit floor, with each person’s feet receiving the brunt of the abuse. There has been great coverage of the event by many members of the IT community, so please review at your leisure.
From a pharmacist’s perspective, HIMSS is a fantastic experience. It shows us the vision technology has for healthcare, and places where informatics pharmacists have the opportunity to contribute. The best theme update was patient engagement in my opinion. As a community healthcare IT is finally moving in the direction of designing systems to this outcome. Many of the early systems focused on capturing data for documentation and billing, but lacked the tools to help the healthcare team include the patient in the process. Based on my observations at HIMSS, we are headed in the right direction. I did my best to get by every EHR vendor’s booth and get a quick tour of their medication use technology. Probably the coolest I saw was Siemens’ ability to suggest standard doses based on those most commonly ordered in a health system.
Pharmacists have an opportunity to contribute at any point in the medication use process. Of course this includes ordering, verifying, preparing, distributing, administering, and monitoring. However now that EHRs include all facets of care this extends to medication reconciliation, all pharmacy to provider interactions (such as refill requests), information exchange (interfaces or interoperability) and reporting. As a very well written post by a colleague pointed out, pharmacy might currently be searching for a future. While our role as members of the healthcare team might be uncertain, we are medication use experts and have a great deal of knowledge to contribute in the healthcare informatics space.
Health Information Exchanges were also growing like weeds, yet the question of business sustainability in the current environment remains to be seen. Alere had a pretty cool iPad app to review information from HIEs. My apologies for not getting by a booth that had other great HIE products.
Another huge theme was data analytics and add-on services for EHRs to improve productivity. A number of companies recognize the importance of extracting meaningful information, and their was no shortage of methodologies to accomplish the task. Add-on solutions were also abound, providing applications that targeted specific EHR process pain points. I can’t wait to see where healthcare IT moves in the coming years. It is truly an exciting field to be involved in!