HIMSS 2014 is in the books. It was a massive event with over 38,000 attendees learning from their peers about leveraging health IT (HIT) to improve patient outcomes, lower the cost of care and increase patient satisfaction. At the overall conference, it was impossible to escape the prominent themes including:

  • Analytics
  • Security
  • Mobility
  • Patient Engagement
  • Interoperability 

Of the sessions that I was able to attend, these stood out for me – offering a number of key takeaways.

Enabling Analytics for Patient Outcomes to Reflect Your Care Model

Dr. Efrem Castillo, regional medical director, WellMed, and Michael Chafin, program manager, Sense Corporation, provided a compelling presentation on the implementation of a centralized data hub at WellMed and its impact on improved patient outcomes.

Wellmed Medical Group provides senior healthcare and services in Austin, El Paso, McAllen and other major Texas and Fla. areas. The organization offers one hub of data that allows visibility into all systems, thereby creating the ability for more robust reporting.

Not only was the mortality rate of WellMed patients half that of non-WellMed patients in Texas, but visibility into performance data drove physician adherence to WellMed’s care model. Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS) scores saw an overall 20 percent increase, with some increasing 65 percent.

Patient Engagement: Health IT Solutions for Both Patients and the Care Team

Rosemary Kennedy, CEO, eCare Informatics, shared results from a study measuring the impact of patient engagement and adherence with care plans through technology based intervention on improving outcomes, improving quality and reducing costs. Their team leverages IBM Cognos to analyze data from its emergency medical records (EMRs).

One interesting case from the study was a patient who initially reported all was well when meeting in person with his physician. However, immediately following the appointment, he reported electronically that he was challenged in adhering to his medication.

The patient was embarrassed to admit it directly to his doctor, but was open to reporting it and seeking help electronically.

Sarah Tupper, HIT consultant, discussed efforts to develop a free resource hub to share best practices on how to facilitate patient engagement. Patient engagement is not equivalent to an ”eAnything,” according to Tupper. Though electronic tools, such as portals, can certainly be part of the toolset used. You can access their portal filled with resources here.

Keynote–Hillary Rodham Clinton:

Late in the day on Wednesday, I was able to catch former Secretary of State Clinton’s keynote address. She received an extremely warm reception at HIMSS, with three separate standing ovations over the course of her speech.

Clinton commended former U.S. Representative Newt Gingrich for collaboration with her on legislation while she was a senator, and encouraged a return to cross-party collaboration driven by data and shared goals for improvement.

She joked that Washington D.C. had become “an evidence-free zone,” where political ideologies took priority over the common good. While she cited several improvements that had resulted from the Affordable Care Act, she also expressed that it is too early to make final judgments on it, and that over time; data may indicate areas that need change.

“If things aren’t working…we need people of good faith to come together and make evidence-based changes,” she noted.

Clinton lauded the audience of thousands for their role in transforming healthcare. She emphasized the importance of HIT and electronic records to enable evidence-based care that can improve quality and lower costs.

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Securing Patient Data in a Mobilized World

CDW Healthcare helped kick off the learning sessions with a presentation on the importance of security in the mobile healthcare environment.

CDW’s Sr. Director of Mobility Solutions Andrea Bradshaw and Director of Security Solutions Sadik Al-Abdulla focused on the importance of deploying the right policies, processes and security tools to protect patient data. Attendees left with the ability to:

  • Identify the mobile security threats that present the greatest risks to healthcare organizations and patients
  • Evaluate who should get access to patient data – how, where and on what devices
  • Describe best practices and tools that healthcare peers use to address mobile security threats
  • Apply mobility/security best practices to their healthcare organizations
  • Assess the best ways to educate/train employees and guests on mobility policies and help them understand compliance strategies

On the exhibitor floor, the CDW booth helped educate show attendees about the range of solutions and expertise offered. Attendees were welcomed in to rest their feet and discuss HIT priorities and challenges. Topics of conversation ranged from:

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  • Analytics
  • Cloud and Migration Services
  • Interoperability
  • Mobility
  • Networking
  • Portals
  • Point of Care
  • Security (encryption, DLP, SIEM, etc.)
  • Servers and Storage
  • Software Licensing and SAM
  • Unified Communications and Telehealth
  • VDI 

Of course it wasn’t all serious business. There was lots of fun to be had from our on-going HIT games where participants competed to win prizes. HIMSS was also abuzz in social media with over 60,000 tweets chirped out over the conference. CDW contributed to the social fun with our Snap & Share contest where the most creative pictures shared on Twitter and Instagram won a prize.

Festivities wrapped up with a customer reception at Howl at the Moon with great conversations, music, food, drinks and tours of the CDW Technoliner.

HIMSS 2014 was a great event. If we saw you there, thanks for stopping by, and let’s continue the conversation. If not, don’t hesitate to reach out to your account manager and take time to discuss your priorities and challenges for 2014.