HIMSS15: My Conference Experience

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My HIMSS15 experience started much sooner than I had expected. After waiting 30 minutes in line at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, I stepped into a taxi. The driver asked me my destination and when I told him McCormick Place, he replied “Let me take a guess – I bet your company develops HIPAA compliant digital health solutions that are interoperable and will revolutionize how patients connect with their health care provider.” I had to laugh – clearly this driver had spent considerable time shuttling HIMSS attendees between the airport and the HIMSS15 conference.

So we started chatting about health care and the different ways in which technology may, in fact, improve outcomes while reducing costs. He was able to recite a number of the different solutions and ideas that his customers had shared with him. Analytics, cyber security, mobile, wearables – a decent range of the health IT spectrum – were all in this mix. In the hour or so ride, I felt like I had already experienced a full day of HIMSS15.

As I walked the exhibition floor later that day, I was a bit overwhelmed with the sheer volume of vendors and their offerings. The range of solutions on display was both extensive and redundant. For example, there are only so many different approaches to implementing a business intelligence capability. How do you cut through all the buzzword noise and recognize those technologies that truly deliver distinguishable purpose and value?

To answer that question, my mind went back to my taxi ride that morning. The basic service that my driver was offering was neither new nor original. However, a quick glance around the inside of the taxi demonstrated that technology was playing a large role in improving the experience for the cab company, its driver, and me. The car was equipped with a camera (security for the driver and passenger), GPS device (efficient route selection), credit card machine (ease of payment), small TV (entertainment) and of course the driver had a smartphone. All of these technologies added specific value, yet none of them required either the driver or me to do anything time consuming or complicated to realize that value. In other words, the technology facilitated the experience, while improving the human interaction. After all, part of the value of the ride was the information exchange I had with the driver.

I discovered that the Connected Patient Gallery was a great place to find examples of using technology to facilitate human interaction, while at the same time fostering measurable improvements in health care. I was particularly intrigued by what one company, PatientsLikeMe had to offer. Focusing on people with life-changing and chronic diseases, PatientsLikeMe enables these people to record and share their experiences with others who have the same conditions. Creating this ‘connection’ creates a community of people helping each other. At the same time, PatientsLikeMe aggregates the data, analyzes it and shares the results with health care and life science companies to accelerate research and develop more effective treatments. Everyone benefits and that, to me, is a great measure of success.

Brian W. Callahan, Segue’s President and CEO, attended HIMSS Annual Conference in Chicago from April 12-April 16, 2015.