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2/15/2012
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What To See At HIMSS12

Among the hundreds of health IT presentations, demos, and vendor offerings at HIMSS12 next week, don't miss these highlights.

With more than 300 educational sessions, dozens of workshops, keynote addresses, and receptions--not to mention 1,100 vendors exhibiting their products--there are as many opportunities for health IT professionals to hobnob and learn while at HIMSS12 next week as there are Vegas buffet choices.

Having a hard time deciding between attending the mobile computing and the electronic health record (EHR) sessions? The breakfast reception or the social networking keynote? The cool app from vendor A vs. vendor B? Prime rib or shrimp?

I'm not going to suggest dinner arrangements, but here are a few activities worth checking out during the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society's HIMSS12 conference in Las Vegas.

Among headliner keynote speakers is national coordinator for health IT Dr. Farzad Mostashari, who'll be addressing the HIMSS12 crowd the morning of Thursday, Feb. 24. While the Office of the National Coordinator has been mum on press inquiries about the content of Mostashari's address, observers expect at minimum he'll present a progress report on stage 1 of the HITECH Act's Meaningful Use program, and some key new information about upcoming stage 2 regulations, which are expected to be published in July or August. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has stated that it anticipates the release of the notice of proposed rulemaking for Meaningful Use stage 2 in February, so it's very possible that Mostashari's speech at HIMSS12 could be where that's announced.

[ Get a sneak peek at some of the products being showcased at HIMSS12. Take a look at Health IT's Newest Ideas: HIMSS12 Preview. ]

As for exhibitions, there are hundreds of vendors at HIMSS with new product demos to check out. But if you want a more holistic view of how some of these technologies can work together in actual hospital environments, stop at the Intelligent Hospital Pavilion.

The pavilion provides a practical look at how radio-frequency ID (RFID), real-time locating systems, sensors, wireless, and other technologies fit into hospital operating rooms, ICUs, emergency departments, and step-down units. A goal is to let pavilion visitors see how patient information and other data can be captured using a variety of technologies in diverse care environments, and then seamlessly integrated and delivered to clinicians' smartphones or tablets, said Harry Pappas, CEO Of RFID Consortium in Healthcare, which is partnering with HIMSS to present the 11,000 square foot Intelligent Hospital Pavilion.

"We take a holistic view of the hospital operation, end to end," said Pappas. "We're showing how these technologies can be integrated seamlessly in existing hospital environments," he said in an interview with InformationWeek Healthcare. The pavilion was built with guidance from actual clinicians practicing in hospitals using many of these technologies, including Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, Pappas said. The Intelligent Hospital Pavilion is operating each day during HIMSS.

If you work for a health plan or insurer, there are several activities worth considering, including a fascinating session on Wednesday morning, Feb. 22, called "Defeating Organized Crime Using Social Network Analytics." The discussion will focus on how social network analytics are starting to be applied to identify abuse, waste, and fraud. Traditionally, when healthcare fraud is discovered, it's after fake claims have been paid, or "pay and chase," said Bill Fox, a former prosecutor who's now senior director of healthcare at LexisNexis, and who's giving the presentation.

Fox said analytic services being offered by LexisNexis are helping healthcare payers find links between information in their databases and data outside their systems, including LexisNexis' 35 billion record, 50-terabyte database. This will help shed light on connections between people, providers, addresses, and businesses involved in potentially fraudulent criminal activity, said Fox in an interview with InformationWeek Healthcare.

Finally, if you're still having a tough time figuring out the best places to be during HIMSS12, the conference organizers are offering a tool of their own to help attendees plot their plans. Using MyHIMSS12, attendees can automatically get an aggregated list of sessions, products, and service categories most relevant to their job role. The list can also be further customized to create your own personalized HIMSS12 agenda.

So, wear a pair of comfy shoes and get going.

Marianne Kolbasuk McGee is a senior writer for InformationWeek.

Healthcare providers must collect all sorts of performance data to meet emerging standards. The new Pay For Performance issue of InformationWeek Healthcare delves into the huge task ahead. Also in this issue: Why personal health records have flopped. (Free registration required.)

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