Health IT Pulse

Feb 16 2011   12:59PM GMT

HIMSS 2011: Seeing through the smoke and mirrors

Don Fluckinger Profile: Don Fluckinger

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David Blumenthal
Direct Project
HIMSS 2011
mHealth

Beyond the specifics we recommended in our HIMSS 2011 preview videos and in John Moore’s HIE breakdown, the editors of SearchHealthIT.com have a few more can’t-miss recommendations for the show — just in case you, like us, have had a hard time budgeting your limited time between sessions, keynotes, and the vendor smoke and mirrors of the expansive exhibit hall, and need a little direction toward what’s hot in Orlando:

  • Check out the Direct Project pilots, offered by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (booth 706 and the interoperability showcase). Many vendors will be offering quasi-live demos, but here you’ll see where the federal government actually put its money down to fund real-world interoperability pilot projects involving the exchange of live patient data.
  • Mobile health vendors will deploy in bigger-than-ever numbers, so keep tabs on the ones that touch your neck of the health-care-provider woods. Whether you work at a hospital, a large integrated system or an ambulatory group, you’ll find something of interest. One thing that intrigues us is first-time exhibitor Boston Life Labs LLC (booth 4100), which specializes in remote patient monitoring to enable chronic disease management. At conferences during the past year, we’ve heard experts claim that keeping chronically ill patients out of the hospital by responding more quickly to changes in their conditions can go a long way toward solving some of health care’s economic woes.
  • Speaking of first-time exhibitors, there’s something about Athenahealth Inc. (booths 843 and 948) that intrigues us. And that something is not what the company does (it’s a Software-as-a-Service vendor of electronic health record software and billing and patient-communication software), but rather its billing scheme: It bills health care providers based on actual reimbursements. Go figure.
  • At the 8:30 a.m. keynote on Wednesday, outgoing national health IT coordinator David Blumenthal will share the stage with U.S. Secretary of Health & Human Services Kathleen Sebelius. We’ve all come to know and appreciate Blumenthal’s measured, low-key optimism, but who knows what he’s going to say in what will be his final HIMSS appearance before he steps down? The gloves might come off. (Well, they probably won’t, but if he gets a little fired up, do you want to miss it?)
  • Clincal language understanding might not be an easy concept to explain in a list of bullet points, but the technology, from an IBM-Nuance Communications Inc. collaboration, is one that could drive health IT for the next decade. It’s one way of reconciling and standardizing the different ways different physicians talk about the same patient problems. Or not. Either way, a physician’s roundtable on Monday will break it down.

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