Healthcare Technology Featured Article

April 11, 2016

Top 10 Trends at HIMSS16

Hands down, the annual meeting of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) is the best place to catch up on vendors, clients, stakeholders and doings by the federal government in the area of health information technology (health IT). While attendance was relatively flat this year, there seemed to be more to see and absorb than ever. Here are the top 10 trends observed at HIMSS16.

1. The little guys got invited to the table. Historically, HIMSS has been dominated by large EHR and revenue cycle vendors.  It was different this year. HIMSS16’s exhibits included many trend setters, innovators and start-ups, which showcased a lot of cool technology.  

2. Telehealth hits the big time. For the last several years, telehealth has been poised for broad growth. HIMSS16 bore that out because developments in telehealth technologies were a major focus of the meeting. 

3. Behavioral health is getting connected. Vendors focused on behavioral health services were newly evident this year — and in a big way. This prominence marks a growing overall interest in —and need for — technologies to address the high cost and disjointed care of patients with various behavioral health issues. 

4. Expect more specialty-related EHRs. Behavioral health EHRs are demonstrative of the growth in specialty-specific EHRs. These continue to gain in popularity and are benefiting from the robust replacement EHR market as specialists abandon “general purpose” EHRs for systems designed specifically to their unique work flows.    

5. MU3 was MIA. Surprisingly, meaningful use (MU) stage 3 was not on anyone’s lips at this gigantic meeting of EHRs and provider organizations. This may be because many stakeholders believe it is dead and have moved on. Not so fast. MU3 has effectively been folded in as a component of the new Medicare Incentive Payment System (MIPS). The government has made some preliminary details available and should be rolling out more as the year goes on.

6. There seemed to be fewer major announcements. HIMSS traditionally has been the place for major announcements about new initiatives and products. There were some at HIMSS16, but not as many as in the past. Maybe it’s because the emphasis seemed to be about communicating with a big audience. Maybe it’s because announcements tend to get overshadowed by the enormity of the event.

7. Yet some big announcements were made. Despite the size of the meeting and the noise surrounding it, some big initiatives were unveiled. These primarily were from the federal government and included:

8. There were no new buzzwords this year. HIMSS meetings usually have a dominant buzzword or two. Not this year. The big catchphrases and concepts from the past — like patient engagement, transparency and precision medicine — didn’t disappear. Instead, stakeholders spent a lot of time explaining how these concepts are being translated into action. 

9. Data analytics is still going strong. The appetite for turning large data sets into actionable information was evident at HIMSS16, even though enthusiasm apparently has waned for the “Big Data” buzzword.  The usual and not-so-usual suspects are turning their focus to clinical data rather than concentrating on selling software. Nontraditional health companies are staking their claims, while others are reinventing themselves to make another run at this opportunity.

10. Nontraditional stakeholders had a bigger presence. Pharmacies, pharmaceutical manufacturers and biotechnology firms continued to have an expanded presence at HIMSS16. We saw them on a mission to learn and absorb the details and benefits of health IT.

See you next year in Orlando!

Edited by Stefania Viscusi
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