Attendance at this year’s HIMSS Annual Conference & Exhibition set a new record. Reported at nearly 43,000, this is an increase of more than 20 percent over last year’s 35,509 attendees. This record crowd left Chicago with a clear view of the new era in population health IT and a vision towards a future of connected care and a learning health system.
Five years ago, it would have been hard to predict that Health and Human Services, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT and other agencies would create such an extensive market response to better support value-based payment models. Many of the regulatory sessions at the conference built on the theme of creating an IT platform to continue moving towards paying for quality of care rather than quantity of care.
[See also: Entering a new era of population health]
Population health technology at this year’s HIMSS went well beyond the high-level categories of interoperability, analytics and management tools. It sometimes seemed nearly every vendor was in the business of furthering the cause. So many moving parts are converging to make population health achievable, and it is important that the industry better define and describe “population health” because this term can mean different things to different people based on their solutions and approach. To be successful, providers must see past the hype and seek out solutions that bring real value to their organizations.
Shifting focus to outcomes
Conversations at HIMSS conferences in recent years have been largely dominated by meaningful use. This year, a great deal of talk was about going past MU and beginning to look at outcomes as opposed to process measures. The Stage 3 proposals as well as the sustainable growth rate repeal and the new Merit-based Incentive Payment System lead towards development of alternative payment models while continuing to focus on meaningful use and beyond.
I noticed that many more vendors exhibited solutions that were combinations of products and services, with more of a modular approach than in the past. The industry is responding to greater demands for solutions that work well with others. This is a move in a good direction. Interoperability of systems and solutions is a critical need. (For more on my thoughts on the importance of interoperability see my recently-published “5 things we have to do to make health IT work.”)
Interestingly, I heard more about analytics at last year’s HIMSS than this year’s event. This year, analytics was folded into a broader discussion around population health with a more modular approach to technology deployment, and services layered into the solutions.