HIMSS 2014 Meeting – The online experience

I attended the first day of #HIMSS 2014 via the web (schedule conflict).  I haven’t been to a HIMSS conference before, and wasn’t really sure how relevant it would be to me as a physician interested in healthcare tech. Here is my takeaway.

1.  Very different than a medical conference.   Conflicts of interest were a bit more obvious.  However, in fairness, since industry is providing these solutions (not private research in most cases), you hardly would expect people not to toot their own horn.

2.  Keynote opener from Aetna’s CEO Mark Bertolini – was pretty consistent from what I’ve seen from insurers in the past.  Not right, not wrong, just really the point of view from an insurer.  Differences –  The usual slides on waste in healthcare were trotted out ($800 billion, but waste exists in the insurance industry too!)  Discussion of unsustainable increase in healthcare premia and progressive cost shifting to the consumer from employers who remain focused on defined contributions.  Some trends towards commodization of care, but also discussion of ACO/PCMH focused factory model of selecting the doctors that provide the best care at the lowest cost (a great #bigdata application if there was ever one).  What was interesting was how he seems to have seized upon #hotspotting of healthcare ‘super-users’ (1) as a tool for future care delivery and cost savings.  As these super-users tend to have two or more chronic conditions (and be elderly or disabled with serious medical conditions), they account for a disproportionate amount of care and spending – 1% of the plan members account for 47% of the costs.  He discussed a commitment to these individuals to get their costs down over time.  That’s interesting, because now under the ACA, risks must be underwritten (before they could be avoided, denied under pre-existing conditions, etc…)   I thought that this was a new and constructive approach – I’m curious to know how many of the other large insurance CEO’s are taking this approach.  From an executive perspective, I agree with it.

One other thing that was discussed was the use of connected devices in #heart failure.  He discussed the partnership of Aetna with Medtronic in the realm of pacemaker data – briefly discussed looking at how electrical impedance which was being routinely collected and data sent back to medtronic – could be used as a predictive analytic of impending CHF (heart failure).  This to me is significant – first because it is a great use of #bigdata analytics, second because it touches on the reality that there are huge private databases of clinical data that can be tapped in new and creative ways to improve patient care.  If this isn’t an argument for #opendata, what is?

3.  Next Web Transmitted Lecture ‘Securing Patient data in a mobilized world’ was about mobile data security.  Well done, nothing ground shaking, a good introduction to cybersecurity for the uninitiated.  Take away point – either use Citrix or Mobile Data Management software to remain HIPAA compliant!

4.  Next Web Transmitted Lecture was ‘Do you have hidden ROI’ was a decent high level discussion of challenges and benefits of technology implementation, with much emphasis on change management.  Good high level discussion, but the ‘ROI’ discussed was more of a soft return on investment (we see things are working better, and our patients/providers like it) as opposed to a quantifiable number.

While I thought the web based sessions were solid, I would liked to have had more variety and certainly some of the titles in the meeting which were not broadcast would have been my choice over these two topics (aside from the keynote).  Twitter under the #HIMSS2014 hashtag was insanely active – a firehose of information.   We’ll need some filtering there to make it useful!  

FYI – while Hillary Clinton is scheduled to speak to the live crowd, there will be no webcast, live or delayed.  A number of participants are upset over this.

Finally, there seems to be a good amount of additional material on the website – a number of lectures were placed online pre-recorded, and there are ‘e-sessions’ which appear similar.  I watched about half of a presentation on big data, which seemed to be well-done & I plan to go back and finish it.

I may post more on this topic if encouraged to do so.  
(1) http://medcitynews.com/2014/02/hot-spotting-healthcare-growing-trend-hospitals-find-super-users/