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The B2B Vendors are Coming! The B2B Vendors are Coming!

Posted on March 10, 2017 I Written By

Colin Hung is the co-founder of the #hcldr (healthcare leadership) tweetchat one of the most popular and active healthcare social media communities on Twitter. Colin is a true believer in #HealthIT, social media and empowered patients. Colin speaks, tweets and blogs regularly about healthcare, technology, marketing and leadership. He currently leads the marketing efforts for @PatientPrompt, a Stericycle product. Colin’s Twitter handle is: @Colin_Hung

It’s been a couple of weeks since the annual HIMSS conference wrapped up for 2017 and I’m just starting to emerge from the HIMSS-Haze of sleep deprivation. I doff my hat to those that recovered more quickly.

As usual there was too much to take in at HIMSS17. The keynotes were fantastic, the sessions educational and the exhibit hall had a buzz about it that was absent from last year’s event. Although the main take-away from HIMSS17 seems to be the emergence of Artificial Intelligence, I believe something else emerged from the event – something that may have far greater ramifications for HealthIT in the short term.

For me the big story at HIMSS17 was the arrival of mainstream IT companies. I have been going to HIMSS for 10 years now and I can honestly say this year was the first time that non-traditional healthcare IT vendors were a noticeable force. SAP, IBM (Watson), Intel, Google, Salesforce, Samsung and Microsoft were just a few of the B2B vendors who had large booths in the HIMSS17 exhibit hall.

Salesforce was particularly noteworthy. They made a big splash with their super-sized booth this year. It was easily five times the size of the one they had at HIMSS16 and featured a fun “cloud viewer” at its center along with a large theatre for demonstrations.

Salesforce, however, didn’t stop there. They also threw a HUGE party over at Pointe Orlando on Tuesday night. At one point, the party had a line of eager attendees that snaked out the front of the facility. Their party rivaled that of several large EHR vendors.

IBM was also back at HIMSS after an extended absence. Their “organic booth” was always busy with people curious to learn more about IBM Watson – particularly after the keynote given by CEO Ginni Rometty on Day 1.

So what does the arrival of mainstream B2B vendors mean for healthcare?

Consolidation. The EHR gold rush is over and yet companies like SAP and Salesforce are still electing to invest in healthcare. Why would they do that at a time when government incentive money has all but dried up? I believe it’s because they smell consolidation and optimization opportunities. These B2B players have large war chests and as HealthIT companies begin to struggle, they will be knights in shining armor waiting to swoop in.

More Consumer Technologies. One of the big trends in healthcare right now is consumerism. There is a drive by healthcare organizations to adopt consumer-centric technologies and workflows to service patients better. Patients are seeking providers that offer the conveniences that they are used to as consumers: online appointment booking, mobile chat, real-time price quotes, etc. Companies like Google, Samsung, IBM and Microsoft already have technologies that work well in the consumer world. With growing demand in healthcare it’s only natural that they are investing.

Standards. Maybe I’m just being optimistic, but when companies like TSYS (a very large financial transaction processor) show up at HIMSS for the first time, one can only hope that standards and interoperability will soon follow. After all, if cut-throat banks can agree on a common way to share information with each other, surely the same can happen in healthcare.

Cognitive Computing. Google, IBM, Microsoft and Intel have all made big bets on cognitive computing. I’m willing to bet that their investments in this area dwarf anything that a HealthIT company has made – including Epic and Cerner. IBM and Microsoft in particular have been aggressively seeking partners to work with them on health applications for Artificial Intelligence. Just ahead of HIMSS17, Microsoft and UPMC Enterprises announced that they would be working together to “create new products aimed at transforming care delivery”.

I’m very excited by the arrival of these B2B technology vendors. I think it signals the start of a maturation phase in the HealthIT industry, one in which consolidation and collaboration break down legacy silos. At the very least, traditional HealthIT companies like Cerner, Epic, athenahealth and NextGen will now have to step up their game in order to fend off these large, well-funded entrants.

Exciting times!

Searching for Disruptive Healthcare Innovation in 2017

Posted on January 17, 2017 I Written By

Colin Hung is the co-founder of the #hcldr (healthcare leadership) tweetchat one of the most popular and active healthcare social media communities on Twitter. Colin is a true believer in #HealthIT, social media and empowered patients. Colin speaks, tweets and blogs regularly about healthcare, technology, marketing and leadership. He currently leads the marketing efforts for @PatientPrompt, a Stericycle product. Colin’s Twitter handle is: @Colin_Hung

Disruptive Innovation has been the brass ring for technology companies ever since Clayton Christensen popularized the term in his seminal book The Innovator’s Dilemma in 1997. According to Christensen, disruptive innovation is:

“A process by which a product or service takes root initially in simple applications at the bottom of a market and then relentlessly moves up market, eventually displacing established competitors.”

Disruption is more likely to occur, therefore, when you have a well established market with slow-moving large incumbents who are focused on incremental improvements rather than truly innovative offerings. Using this definition, healthcare has been ripe for innovation for a number of years. But where is the AirBNB/Uber/Google of healthcare?

On a recent #hcldr tweetchat we asked what disruptive healthcare technologies might emerge in 2017. By far the most popular response was Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning.

Personally, I’m really excited about the potential of AI applied to diagnostics and decision support. There is just no way a single person can stay up to speed on all the latest clinical research while simultaneously remembering every symptom/diagnosis from the past. I believe that one day we will all be using AI assistance to guide our care – as common as we use a GPS today to help navigate unknown roads.

Some #hcldr participants, however, were skeptical of AI.

While I don’t think @IBMWatson is on the same trajectory as Theranos, there is merit to being wary of “over-hype” when it comes to new technologies. When a shining star like Theranos falls, it can set an entire industry back and stifle innovation in an area that may warrant investment. Can you imagine seeking funding for a technology that uses small amounts of blood to detect diseases right now? Too much hype can prematurely kill innovation.

Other potentially disruptive technologies that were raised during the chat included: #telehealth, #wearables, patient generated health data (#PDHD), combining #HealthIT with consumer services and #patientengagement.

The funniest and perhaps most thoughtful tweet came from @YinkaVidal, who warned us that innovations have a window of usefulness. What was once ground-breaking can be rendered junk by the next generation.

What do you believe will be the disruptive healthcare technology to emerge in 2017?

6 Things EHRs Should Be Thankful For

Posted on November 25, 2016 I Written By

Colin Hung is the co-founder of the #hcldr (healthcare leadership) tweetchat one of the most popular and active healthcare social media communities on Twitter. Colin is a true believer in #HealthIT, social media and empowered patients. Colin speaks, tweets and blogs regularly about healthcare, technology, marketing and leadership. He currently leads the marketing efforts for @PatientPrompt, a Stericycle product. Colin’s Twitter handle is: @Colin_Hung

Tis’ the season for being thankful for the friends, family and bounty we have in our lives. It is a time to celebrate the end of the season with copious amounts of food and reflect upon the good things that have happened in our lives this year.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I thought it would be fun to give voice to what an EHR would be thankful for this year. So if I put my mind into that of an EHR here are the top 6 things I’d be thankful for.

  1. Meaningful Use. Thank you for five great years. It was only through the infusion of $35B that thousands of my brethren were adopted/implemented across the United States. Without MU, we EHRs would not have proliferated to the degree that we have. #forevergrateful
  2. Doctors. Absolute thankful for all the doctors who use us everyday. We love how much time and attention you are giving us in 2016. It’s almost embarrassing how you stare at our screens and don’t get distracted by the other people in the exam room with you (I think you call them patients…and I think I have a field for that). We look forward to more of the same next year. Thank you!
  3. Nurses. Thank you to all the nurses out there. Your constant clicking on our drop-down boxes and check boxes are like a daily “tickle”. We hope you aren’t too mad at us for making it difficult to get the information you want. It’s only because we want to spend more time with you. #love
  4. EHR Consultants. I am grateful this year for the army of EHR consultants that are out there. Without you, we EHRs would have been relegated to the scrap heap long ago. Thank you for working hard to optimize us, customizing us to better suit user needs and to teaching people how to use us effectively. We owe our longevity to you.
  5. Health IT Media. Thank you to the Health IT media for keeping the spotlight on EHRs in 2016 – despite it being the last year of the Meaningful Use program. Whether you like us or not, we EHRs have become the backbone of healthcare and there are a lot of things that can be improved – but only if people stay focused on their EHR journeys. Installation was just the first step. So all you columnists, writers, bloggers and Tweeters out there, please keep EHRs on the radar.
  6. EHR Vendors. I shudder to think of where we would be without our creators in 2016. It was exciting to watch you build “partner ecosystems” around us. These add-ons really helped to unlock the usefulness of the data we’ve been keeping safe. I know we wanted to work on something called “usability” but I’m sure we’ll get to it next year.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Olympic Polyclinics – the Future of Healthcare?

Posted on August 19, 2016 I Written By

Colin Hung is the co-founder of the #hcldr (healthcare leadership) tweetchat one of the most popular and active healthcare social media communities on Twitter. Colin is a true believer in #HealthIT, social media and empowered patients. Colin speaks, tweets and blogs regularly about healthcare, technology, marketing and leadership. He currently leads the marketing efforts for @PatientPrompt, a Stericycle product. Colin’s Twitter handle is: @Colin_Hung

The first Olympic Village was built in Los Angeles In 1932. To help ensure the health and safety of athletes, a small hospital was built in the Village and provided care free of charge to the athletes.

Since 1932, every Olympic Village has featured a dedicated 24-hour healthcare facility – now called the Olympic Polyclinic – that provides free healthcare to anyone involved with the Olympics. The Polyclinic at this year’s Games in Rio de Janeiro is once again a marvel of modern medicine, much like the one at 2012’s London Games represented the pinnacle of medicine four years ago.

At 3,500 sq ft, the Rio Polyclinic is the largest ever constructed. It features a state-of-the-art equipment including: MRI scanners, x-ray machines and even cryotherapy pools (for low temperature treatments). All the equipment and the EHR that holds it all together is donated by Olympic sponsors. The staff are all volunteers.

I find the Polyclinics fascinating and the more I read about them, the more I am convinced they are a providing us a glimpse into the future of healthcare.

Health-Aware Patients

The doctors and nurses at the Polyclinics see some of the most health-aware patients on the planet. Olympic athletes track everything from their diet to their sleep patterns to resting heart rates. When they show up at the Polyclinic they often have a very good idea of what is wrong and come armed with lots of baseline health data. The Polyclinic staff expect this and collaborate with their patients when they walk in the door.

As more and more people track their fitness through apps and trackers, we too are becoming more and more health-aware as patients. In the future we will have a lot of digital information about our own health – information that can and should be shared with our care team. Physician practices will have to learn to collaborate as the Polyclinic staff have learned – or they risk alienating potential health-aware patients.

Health-Abstaining Patients

The Olympic Polyclinics also see patients that are at the complete opposite end of the spectrum. For many athletes (and support staff) from developing countries, the Polyclinics are the only opportunity they have to receive quality healthcare.

According to a piece in USA Today the MRI suite, x-ray machines and ultrasound machines at the Rio Polyclinic has been running non-stop. In addition, the Polyclinic has provided:

  • 1,000 dental checks
  • 450 dental x-rays
  • 300 specialized mouth guards
  • 1,730 eye exams
  • 1,410 sets of prescription glasses

…and it’s only the mid-point of the Games.

Due to lack of access and high cost, many Olympians are forced to forgo medical care. This is the same phenomenon that is happening in the United States as high deductible plans and increasing healthcare costs are forcing many to abstain from seeking care. Because of this, staff will see more and more patients with higher and higher acuities – something that the Polyclinic staff see often at the Games.

Completely Autonomous

The Polyclinics are self-contained healthcare facilities. They have an onsite lab, a full imaging suite and a full staff of specialists. It takes less than an hour to get blood test results and image readings. Short of major surgeries, the Polyclinics can handle most patient needs without need to refer them to another facility.

This one-stop approach is what patients want. They want to go to a single nearby facility and have access to all the specialists and equipment they need. It would be impractical to build Polyclinics in every rural town, but through the magic of telemedicine, it may one day be possible to access needed specialists without having to drive hundreds of miles.

With the advances in remote testing and telemedicine coupled with patient preference for one-stop shopping I expect to see more multi-specialty, completely autonomous clinics open in the next few years.

Culturally Aware

Being in the middle of Olympic Village, the staff at the Polyclinics have to be very culturally aware. Instead of insisting on a “Western Approach”, doctors and nurses are encouraged to listen to the patient and take into consideration their religion as well as cultural norms.

It will not be long until smart healthcare organizations realize that catering to cultural differences in their communities is a differentiator. The same has happened in the grocery industry with the rise of halal meats and ethnic food aisles. Being culturally aware will attract more patients.

Admittedly, the Polyclinics, like the Olympic Games themselves, exist within their own reality bubble. There is little concern over finances, there is no shortage of clinicians, they have a completely captive audience and they don’t have to care for their patients for more than two weeks.

Despite this, I see the Polyclinics as a barometer of things to come – especially in terms of the types of patients they see. It’s going to be fun to read more stories from the Polyclinic after the Rio Games end. Now back to watching synchronized swimming.

For an insider look at life inside the Polyclinic, I would highly recommend this post from Trisha Greenhalgh who documented her experience at the London Games Polyclinic in 2012.

Healthcare Price Transparency Driving Choice – Just The Wrong Direction

Posted on July 25, 2016 I Written By

Colin Hung is the co-founder of the #hcldr (healthcare leadership) tweetchat one of the most popular and active healthcare social media communities on Twitter. Colin is a true believer in #HealthIT, social media and empowered patients. Colin speaks, tweets and blogs regularly about healthcare, technology, marketing and leadership. He currently leads the marketing efforts for @PatientPrompt, a Stericycle product. Colin’s Twitter handle is: @Colin_Hung

Last month, the Healthcare Financial Management Association held their annual conference – #HFMA16ANI. The topics covered in the sessions and discussed in the aisles of the exhibit hall were wide-ranging. Financial patient experience, scoring based on propensity to pay, patient loans, financing options and price transparency were on the lips of many attendees.

The discussions on price transparency were particularly interesting. Attendees were not talking about transparency as the silver-bullet for reducing costs in healthcare like they were last year. Instead, attendees were talking about it as being just the first step in a long journey to a truly open market in healthcare.

Just a few years ago, price transparency was touted as the necessary catalyst for true consumer/patient choice in healthcare. It was believed that with detailed price information patients would be able to “shop around” for their care using price as a determining factor. Having this choice would mean healthcare organizations would have to become more price competitive – thus driving overall costs lower.

Check out this excellent post from Dan Munro @danmunro back in 2013 that captures the hope of price transparency at that time.

I believe that all the work around price transparency in the past few years has indeed pushed patients to make choices in their healthcare – just not the choices that we want.

This tweet from Annette McKinnon @anetto, a patient advocate from Toronto, during a recent #hcldr tweetchat perfectly illustrates the choices patients are making when they know the price of care:

Armed with price information, patients are not choosing to shop around for more affordable options, instead they are making the choice between forgoing care vs getting treatment. A Gallop poll found that in the US, 33% of families have put off medical treatment because of cost. That same poll shows that 22% of Americans have put off medical treatment for a “very” or “somewhat serious” condition.

So why aren’t patients taking the pricing information they receive and shopping around for cheaper alternatives? The biggest reason in my opinion is that patients do not have value transparency.

To me, value transparency is a state where patients purchasing healthcare services have a clear understanding of the expected outcomes, health benefits, disadvantages, risks and costs associated with it. In addition, patients would know how those services will be delivered (the workflow) and who is doing it. When a patient has access to this type of information and has the knowledge to interpret it, that’s when they have value transparency.

So what do we need to get to this state of value transparency in healthcare? Members of the #hcldr community had some interesting suggestions:

I believe that one day we will have value transparency in healthcare. Price transparency is an important first step. However, price in and of itself is not sufficient information to spur most patients to choose between different providers of care. In its current form, price transparency may be doing more harm than good for patients with chronic conditions that get worse without treatment – they may choose to forgo care due to cost only to end up in a more critical situation later because of the delay in treatment.

My hope is that someone will take today’s healthcare pricing tools and merge them with standardized quality metrics, crowdsourced patient experience data and provider histories to create a value transparency tool. In the meantime, the current crop of price transparency tools can at least help to reduce the fear of the unknown medical bill.

HealthIT Trends from Healthcare Marketing Leaders

Posted on April 15, 2016 I Written By

Colin Hung is the co-founder of the #hcldr (healthcare leadership) tweetchat one of the most popular and active healthcare social media communities on Twitter. Colin is a true believer in #HealthIT, social media and empowered patients. Colin speaks, tweets and blogs regularly about healthcare, technology, marketing and leadership. He currently leads the marketing efforts for @PatientPrompt, a Stericycle product. Colin’s Twitter handle is: @Colin_Hung

Last week 180+ HealthIT Marketers gathered in Atlanta for the #HITMC conference hosted by John Lynn and Shahid Shah. This annual event brings together content creators, editors, graphics artists, strategists, analysts and managers from across the healthcare industry. It is a truly unique opportunity to learn from those that work at marketing agencies, publications, provider organizations, HealthIT companies and marketing vendors.

One of the things I love to do at #HITMC is ask fellow marketers what topics they are being asked to write about and create content for. This informal poll is a fantastic way to gain insight into what will be trending over the next few months in healthcare. Why? Because if someone in the #HITMC audience is writing about it, you can rest assured it’ll be something you will soon see in your Twitter, LinkedIn, RSS or Facebook feed.

Here is a sampling of the responses I gathered at #HITMC:

Chris Slocumb @CSlocumb – CQ Marketing

“We’re doing a lot of work on security. From the provider side we’re talking about whether the right safeguards are in place and from the vendor side we’re writing about how their tools can help with securing an organization. Analytics, HIEs and interoperability are also topics we are creating content for. Conversely we’re not seeing much in the area of patient engagement right now.”

Shereese Maynard MS @ShereesePubHlth – Envisioncare

“I find that I’m doing work in the area of Home Health right now. It’s something that providers are waking up to – the potential for care at home to help patients stay healthier at lower cost. Providers and patients alike are looking to read more on that topic. Personally I’m very interested in Direct Primary Care. I think it’s a topic that will bubble to the top soon.”

Scott CollinsAria Marketing

“Thought leadership is hot right now. It’s not exactly a specific topic, but I’m seeing a lot of companies hop onto the thought leadership bandwagon. It’s like vendors have suddenly woken up to the fact that getting ‘out there’ and demonstrating your expertise on a subject is going to lead to more business. It’s exciting. In terms of a topic, population health is something I’m seeing a lot of, but one level deeper than before. Instead of just defining it we’re going to be talking about how it will help specific communities. Oh and security is BIG.”

Beth Friedman @HealthITPR – Agency Ten22

“I’m seeing a lot of requests for content around bundled payments, revenue cycle and the new self-pay patient. The financial side of healthcare is changing.”

From the conversations at #HITMC, I would definitely say security and payment are the two hottest topics right now. Security isn’t really all that surprising given the number of recent ransomware attacks. The topic of payment and revenue cycle, however, caught me a little by surprise. I thought (hoped) interoperability or patient data access would have been a trending topic. Given the changes to reimbursement models, the movement to value-based care and the popularity of high-deductible health plans, it’s no wonder this is garnering a lot of readership/interest.

Shameless Plug: If you work in HealthIT marketing or for a HealthIT publication, I would strongly encourage you to attend #HITMC next year. Not only are the sessions educational, but by listening to the attendees you’ll get a pulse of what is trending in healthcare. Hopefully we’ll see you next year!

Value-Based Lawn Care – Life Imitating Healthcare

Posted on March 28, 2016 I Written By

Colin Hung is the co-founder of the #hcldr (healthcare leadership) tweetchat one of the most popular and active healthcare social media communities on Twitter. Colin is a true believer in #HealthIT, social media and empowered patients. Colin speaks, tweets and blogs regularly about healthcare, technology, marketing and leadership. He currently leads the marketing efforts for @PatientPrompt, a Stericycle product. Colin’s Twitter handle is: @Colin_Hung

Ah, spring. Warmer weather, budding trees and the return of that big ball of light in the sky. The clearest sign of spring? The arrival of lawn-care flyers in my neighborhood. It’s only been a week of spring and already I have received over 15 flyers.

Normally I just throw these flyers out – taking care of my lawn is a responsibility I prefer not to outsource – but this year one company’s flyer caught my eye. Instead of the pay-as-you-mow or weekly visit programs offered by their competitors, this particular company was offering a program that guaranteed a green lawn until the start of fall. For a set price they would aerate, weed, spray, fertilize, cut and trim your lawn as needed.

“Have a healthy, weed-free lawn all summer. Let us do all the preventative and maintenance work. You just enjoy your weekends.”

Here was a company that was eschewing the industry’s volume-based standard practice and opting for a value-based offering instead. This company smartly recognized that homeowners do not want someone to come and care for their lawn on a regular basis but rather a healthy green lawn. The process to get that healthy lawn makes no difference, just the outcome. Funny how no government penalty system or legislation was need to pressure lawn-care providers into adopting a value-based model.

I must admit I never thought that the lawn care industry in my neighborhood would be going through the same volume-vs-value challenge as we are in healthcare.

I wouldn’t have made this connection had it not been for the excellent post by Sarah Bennight, Director of Marketing at eMedApps. She wrote about the four key requirements she believes are necessary for transitioning to value-based care:

  1. Strong quality measures
  2. Comprehensive population health
  3. Predictive analytics and trending in the clinical setting
  4. Breaking down silos

The lawn-care industry doesn’t have any comparable challenges (or consequences) like those mentioned by Bennight. I can’t imagine that competing landscaping companies are all that interested in sharing data or breaking down industry silos. However, I do think that healthcare can look to other industries for inspiration and ideas to address our own transition to a value-based world.

Better go seed my lawn now.

What Happens After We Get Access to Our Medical Records?

Posted on March 18, 2016 I Written By

Colin Hung is the co-founder of the #hcldr (healthcare leadership) tweetchat one of the most popular and active healthcare social media communities on Twitter. Colin is a true believer in #HealthIT, social media and empowered patients. Colin speaks, tweets and blogs regularly about healthcare, technology, marketing and leadership. He currently leads the marketing efforts for @PatientPrompt, a Stericycle product. Colin’s Twitter handle is: @Colin_Hung

Over the past few years, there has been a growing choir of patient voices asking for access to medical records. It started with a few courageous e-patients asking for their data – most notably David deBronkart aka @ePatientDave and Regina Holldiay @ReginaHolliday.

Now with the proliferation of tracking devices and wellness apps, more and more people are joining the choir including: vendors, government agencies and leading medical institutions. Although progress is still slow, it is now possible to imagine a day when all patients will have free and open access to their medical record.

This week’s #hcldr tweetchat asked the question…So What Next? What would be the first thing you would do if you had complete access to your own medical record? Below are some of the more interesting and notable answers.

Correcting errors in the medical record in order to avoid future adverse events was the most popular answer from the #hcldr community. Sharing the medical record was a close second:

There were a few data geeks in the #hcldr crowd who saw access as an opportunity to mine the record:

I think @mloxton is spot on with his tweet. I would definitely do the same – mostly to find out if there was a pattern in my medical record that could help predict future health issues. Armed with that information I would then make changes to my current behavior.

The most interesting use of medical record data came from Andy DeLaO @CancerGeek:

I’m thinking the world could use a few more @CancerGeeks…even virtual ones.

Matthew Katz MD had the most thought-provoking tweet relating to medical records:

Nothing comes without a price and Katz’s tweet certainly highlights a potential headache if the level of health literacy is not improved ahead of open access to medical records. I have faith though, that over the next few years we will see many more startups with technologies that can read medical records and produce plain-language interpretations as well as recommendations. That utopia can’t come soon enough.

For a curated summary of the #hcldr chat see this Storify.

What would you do if you had access to your medical record?

Data Blocking and other Loch Ness Monsters at #HIMSS16

Posted on March 2, 2016 I Written By

Colin Hung is the co-founder of the #hcldr (healthcare leadership) tweetchat one of the most popular and active healthcare social media communities on Twitter. Colin is a true believer in #HealthIT, social media and empowered patients. Colin speaks, tweets and blogs regularly about healthcare, technology, marketing and leadership. He currently leads the marketing efforts for @PatientPrompt, a Stericycle product. Colin’s Twitter handle is: @Colin_Hung

A torrent of tweets was unleashed on Day 2 of #HIMSS16. According to Symplur, almost 30,000 tweets were sent with the #HIMSS16 hashtag yesterday.

One tweet was particularly memorable:

The quote comes from John Halamka, CIO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, who was discussing the controversial act of information blocking – where vendors proactively block the sharing of information health information. John Lynn posted a fantastic summary of information blocking here.

That tweet stuck with me and for the rest of Day 2 at #HIMSS16 I was on the lookout for Loch Ness Monsters – things that get discussed, but are almost never seen.

Loch Ness Monster #2 – Interoperability

A close cousin to information blocking – interoperability has been a popular topic again this year at HIMSS. Many vendors are touting new APIs and tools that help make data exchange easier. The HHS even unveiled plans for several initiatives to pave the way for easier information sharing. However, like in previous years, there is a lot of talk, but very little action when it comes to interoperability.

There is frankly very little financial incentive for vendors and institutions to be open with their data. So until the economics change, interoperability will remain a Loch Ness Monster.

Loch Ness Monster #3 – Gender parity

The #HealthITChicks tweetup led by Jennifer Dennard of HISTalk highlighted the issue of gender inequality in healthcare IT. Dennard and a panel of three respected women leaders discussed the progress-made and the progress-yet-to-be made in terms of women being fully accepted as equals in the industry.

The panel pointed to the results of the annual HIMSS Leadership Survey which were revealed in a morning briefing. A key finding of the survey was gender-based pay inequality – “Evidence from the Compensation Survey, for example, suggest female health IT workers are being marginalized in this sector of the economy. Analyzed several different ways, women consistently earn less than their male counterparts. The findings also suggest females are under-represented in IT-related executive and senior management roles in the health sector.”

So apparently we talk a lot about women being equal, but the it’s simply not something that’s seen.

Loch Ness Monster #4 – Patients

HIMSS is by far the largest healthcare IT conference in North America. It attracts attendees from across the spectrum of healthcare. However, there is one stakeholder that is nearly absent – patients. Every vendor talks about including patients in the design of their products and how they consider themselves to be “patient centered” yet there are only a handful of patient advocates and e-Patients at the conference.

Progress has been made in the past few years in terms of patient scholarships, but more can be done to ensure that the voice of the patient is actually seen/heard at the annual HIMSS conference. It’s time for vendors and health institutions to step up.

Loch Ness Monster #5 – Stable WiFi

In the lunch lines, restroom lines and in the aisles of the Exhibit Hall, #HIMSS16 attendees were all asking each other if they knew of a good place to get a stable WiFi signal. To be fair, WiFi coverage this year has been much better than in years past, but there still plenty of people talking about “If you go over there by the window and just under the escalator you’ll get a strong signal”. On two occasions I want to the exact spot recommended by a fellow attendee – only to be disappointed with a single bar of signal strength. My hotspot has rarely seen this much activity in a single day.

What things have you HEARD at #HIMSS16 but have not actually SEEN?

Dr. Rasu Shrestha Helps Injured Passenger Enroute to #HIMSS16

Posted on March 1, 2016 I Written By

Colin Hung is the co-founder of the #hcldr (healthcare leadership) tweetchat one of the most popular and active healthcare social media communities on Twitter. Colin is a true believer in #HealthIT, social media and empowered patients. Colin speaks, tweets and blogs regularly about healthcare, technology, marketing and leadership. He currently leads the marketing efforts for @PatientPrompt, a Stericycle product. Colin’s Twitter handle is: @Colin_Hung

One of the most interesting aspects of HIMSS are the stories that emerge during the conference. There are the “macro” stories like the announcements of new joint ventures and there are the “micro” stories of individual triumphs.

I love the personal stories that I hear/over-hear at HIMSS. Over the years I find that I remember these personal tales more vividly than I do the product announcements. Yesterday on #HIMSS16 Day 1, I heard the most incredible story in my nine years of attending the conference.
Rasu Shrestha
Rasu Shrestha MD MBA @RasuShrestha, Chief Innovation Officer at UPMC and Executive Vice President at UPMC Enterprises shared with me how he treated an injured passenger on his flight to Las Vegas for #HIMSS16.

Shortly after taking off from Pittsburgh airport, a straight-out-of-TV request came over the plane’s PA system: “Is there a medical doctor on board? If so, please identify yourself to the crew.” As with all other flights to Las Vegas this week, the plane was filled with fellow HIMSS attendees, but only Dr. Shrestha identified himself as an MD. He was quickly brought to an unconscious passenger in the aisle near the back of the plane.

The fallen man had collapsed on the way to the restroom and had hit his head on one of the foot rests, causing a gash on his forehead. When Dr. Shrestha arrived the man was bleeding profusely. After quickly assessing the situation, he sprang into action. Using only the plane’s first aid kit, Dr. Shrestha staunched the bleeding but the man remained unconscious. At this point two nurses who happened to be on board, came to help Dr. Shrestha and together they managed to stabilize the injured man.

“Had they had a suture kit on board I would have dressed his head injury right there on the plane” said Shrestha, “It was clear to me he needed stitches.”

The impromptu care team did so well that the man was able to complete the flight to Las Vegas without an emergency landing. Paramedics met the plane on arrival and took the injured man to a local hospital. He is recovering nicely. In recognition for his good deed, all the passengers and flight crew gave Dr. Shrestha an enthusiastic round of applause.

As Dr. Shrestha finished his story, it was easy to see how moved he was by this gesture from his fellow passengers – most of whom are part of the Pittsburgh healthcare community.

For me, this is likely going to be the most memorable story of #HIMSS16 – or any HIMSS for that matter…and we’re only on Day 1!