News Corner: Interoperability and HIT Policy—Hot Topics at HIMSS17

The annual HIMSS conference took place this week in Orlando, Florida and featured a whopping 1,200 exhibitors and approximately 45,000 attendees. The focus, as in past years, was on ways to improve on existing technology.

The conference included more than 130 scheduled events over the course of five days and showcased the power of interoperability for predictive analytics and patient engagement. Additionally, policy changes under the new presidential administration were a hot topic of conversation.

Improvements on Existing Technology

Utilization of hospital technology has always been a major theme at HIMSS—many come to see how other facilities are using programs in order to close gaps or identify new ways to employ technology.

After making significant investments in health IT over the past decade, many executives are less interested in brand new innovations, and more interested in innovative methods of using technologies already in place. This is most likely a result of tight budget restrictions placed on hospital CIOs that limit the ability to acquire new systems.

Lifesaving IT

With so much talk of ROI, it’s easy to forget that HIT does more than promote fiscal responsibility. The bigger issue is its ability to impact patients’ lives. One session, titled Can IT Really Save Lives?, featured four speakers and focused on using technologies that have direct outcomes—including demonstrations of how innovative uses of previously disconnected technologies can make a difference.

The Future of Policy

The introduction of a new administration has many wondering about the future of IT in healthcare. Policy changes across the board mean an uncertain road ahead for many organizations and existing initiatives.

The ONC Policy staff hosted an open forum for discussion about policy issues surrounding the implementation and use of HIT. Topics included public health, emergency medicine system integration, information blocking, enhancing privacy and security, and supporting functionality and interoperability across the care continuum.

Patient Engagement

With a move to value-based care and the growing weight placed on consumers in healthcare, patient engagement was a major topic of discussion at HIMSS, specifically, the idea of leveraging patient-generated health data (PGHD).

Through the use of mobile applications, many providers are hoping to not only encourage effective self-care and management of chronic diseases, but also find ways to better identify critical points in a patient’s care for the purpose of intervention. Martin Entwistle, executive director of personal healthcare programs at Sutter Health, hosted a session on PGHD and its impact on outcomes and efficiencies.

With the pressure to create tangible, quality solutions to some of healthcare’s biggest problems, HIMSS17 serves as a catalyst for innovation in the months ahead. Learn more about the conference on their website,

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