4 Health IT Themes To Watch At HIMSS13

Interoperability challenges, patient experience, mobile technology will be in spotlight at annual health IT conference.
3. Mobile Goes Mainstream.

In December 2011, HIMSS launched its mHIMSS project and later purchased the annual mHealth Summit from the Foundation of the National Institutes of Health. Last year, for the first time, the HIMSS conference included a mobile track.

"There is still some unique audience there," Lieber said of mHIMSS. "On the other hand, we are also integrating mHIMSS into the HIMSS13 event because you really can't fully separate mobile health and mobile technology" from other aspects of health IT.

How integrated? Dr. Eric Topol, director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute at Scripps Health in San Diego, and a well-known advocate of mobile and wireless technology in medicine, is keynoting Tuesday morning.

Sprint CEO Dan Hesse was the keynote speaker at HIMSS in 2010, talking plenty about telemedicine and wireless connectivity, but a sure sign of a maturing conference topic is the presence of end users rather than vendors as speakers. Topol, author of The Creative Destruction of Medicine, is very much the user of cutting-edge technology, as he demonstrated to a mainstream audience on NBC's "Rock Center with Brian Williams" in January.

Topol has been called a "rock star of science" by GQ magazine. He commanded the stage at TEDMED in 2009, famously dropping his stethoscope into a trash can on stage. "It's not only using what we'll call mobile-type devices, but he's also on the forefront of innovation in general," Lieber said.

Meanwhile, the specialty program "HIT X.0: Beyond the Edge," which featured a lot of mobile technology as a standalone adjunct to the HIMSS conference the past two years, is more integrated into the main event this time.

"We still call it out because there is so much technology and activity that falls into more routine, status quo [processes]," Lieber said. "The heavy lifting of healthcare technology is still vested very much in applications, systems, and activities that have been around for a few years, but the movement towards some of the cutting-edge technologies, the approaches used by people focused on mobile technologies, mobile applications -- that really is becoming more mainstream."

4. Global Health.

HIMSS13 includes a new program, the Global Health Forum, featuring speakers from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and the World Bank discussing public-private partnerships related to global health initiatives.

Former President Bill Clinton, he of the Clinton Global Initiative and the recently introduced Clinton Health Matters Initiative, is due to deliver a keynote on Wednesday. Lieber said he did not know exactly what Clinton would be speaking about, but a Verizon Communications press conference about health information exchange, scheduled for Monday afternoon, will feature Clinton Health Matters Initiative CEO Ginny Ehrlich.

Verizon already is a partner in the Clinton Health Matters Initiative, supporting technologies such as remote, home-based patient monitoring and systems to alert doctors when patients with chronic diseases need medical interventions. The initiative is meant to close health disparities between different socioeconomic, racial and ethnic groups in the U.S. and abroad.

HIMSS itself has taken a more global focus in recent years, branching out to Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

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