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HIMSS15: It Was All About the Pie
HIMSS15: It Was All About the Pie
By Steven Blumenthal | 04-23-2015

My one-word takeaway from last week’s HIMSS Annual Conference in Chicago is “pie.” Jonathan Bush, Athenahealth’s CEO, got one shoved in his face. Epic, Cerner and other big healthcare IT vendors seemed to be busy cutting deals on the exhibition floor to get bigger slices of the pie. Everyone seemed to be offering products that promise to make data and system interoperability easy as pie. CTOs and CIOs looked for security tools to keep hackers’ fingers out of their pies. And the size and scope of HIMSS15--43,000 attendees in the massive McCormick Place exhibition center--left me pie-eyed.

A pie in the face. If you were one of the lucky 800 people who attended HIStalk’s annual HIStalkapalooza event, you got to watch as Judy Faulkner, Epic’s CEO, refused to throw a pie in the face of Jonathan Bush…as she said, for the sake of the pie. Fortunately for the audience (and not so fortunately for Bush), an audience member volunteered to do the deed.

More pie. The biggest healthcare IT vendors had “booths” the size of my house, complete with multiple break-out rooms for exhibition floor negotiations. The rooms were constantly in use. Senior executives were on site and involved. Deals were being cut. The negotiation frenzy appeared to extend to mid-size healthcare IT vendors, too--particularly for EHR and data analytics vendors. Small vendors seemed somewhat lost in HIMSS15’s massive wake.

Easy as pie. Interoperability--both data interoperability and healthcare IT system interoperability--are key stumbling-blocks to healthcare providers’ ability to obtain value from their investments in healthcare IT. HIMSS15 featured many products that purport to make interconnected healthcare a reality. From the HIMSS Interoperability Showcase to Walgreens’ Connected Patient Gallery, the exhibition was chock-full of tools for combining the data and functionality of separate healthcare IT systems, mobile devices, and wearable technology.

Keep your fingers out of my pie. While the crowds weren’t heavy where data security vendors were offering their products and services, data security was clearly on the minds of attendees. HIMSS launched a new Cybersecurity Command Center where speakers from both the healthcare IT industry and government spoke about the cyber threat landscape. While conversations about wearable tech and patient engagement platforms were couched in terms of “nice-to-have” things, conversations about data security products and services were more committed--focusing on what works and how much it’ll cost.

Pie-eyed. Forty-three thousand attendees. Over 1,200 vendors. 1.3 million square feet of exhibit space. HIMSS15 was huge.

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Steven E. Blumenthal
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