HiMSS 2017 Full of Interesting Technology Stories


Industry gatherings are always a great chance to renew old acquaintances, share war stories, get in on the latest industry gossip, and try out that new pair of sneakers on the exhibition floor.  And HiMSS 2017, the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society’s annual gathering of 40,000 healthcare IT professionals didn’t disappoint.

IBM CEO Ginni Rometty provided an interesting keynote presentation, urging attendees to embrace cognitive computing to open a new “golden age” in healthcare.  Timing is everything though.  Just days before her speech, MD Anderson gave IBM’s Watson artificial intelligence engine the boot, severing a $62M dollar relationship that would have put the cognitive computing system on the healthcare map. Funny. Ginni didn’t mention it in her remarks.

Epic CEO Judy Faulkner also made news when she announced that the EHR software giant would be introducing two new systems with lower price tags, aimed at smaller hospitals.  Faulkner admits that a number of community institutions just can’t afford her pricey EHR platform but don’t necessarily need all of its features either.

Former Utah Governor and HHS Secretary Michael Levitt predicted repeal of the Affordable Care Act but with changes deferred for two to four years, while former Speaker of the House John Boehner remained skeptical that Republicans would ever agree on anything related to an Obamacare fix.

Much buzz also centered on the exhibition hall where one attendee said he actually took a pedometer and logged more than three miles on the convention floor.  Our intrepid group of blister-impaired technologists ventured out themselves and came back with this short list of some of the more interesting new hardware and software offerings.

  • HP/EchoPixel True 3D
    True 3D Viewer software enables physicians to see and interact with medical images the way they would with real, physical objects. The system converts existing DICOM datasets into life-size virtual reality objects, allowing physicians to move, turn, dissect, and cut open virtual patient anatomy.
  • Avaya Open Networking Adaptors
    Avaya Open Networking Adaptors seamlessly transform conventional endpoints into intelligent open network nodes. This little box allows you to easily connect pumps and biomedical devices, things that are difficult to interact with on the network because of special IP encryption controls.
  • Aprima’s Clinical Decision Support (CDS)
    The demo of the company’s CDS had some wow factor to it – especially as it relates to physician productivity. It has predictive analytics built right in, taking into account a physician’s diagnosis and treatment history for a class of health issues while simultaneously meeting Meaningful Use requirements and patient safety compliance.
  • Microsoft HoloLens at The Intervention Centre, Oslo University Hospital          Using a mixed reality environment powered by Microsoft HoloLens, the company demonstrated how surgeons at Oslo University Hospital can visualize a 3D model of an organ during the planning stages of a surgery to help them improve the outcome. This is a cutting edge “Augmented Reality” (AR) use case; many expect to see an explosion of relevant AR cases in healthcare.
  • Alert Life Sciences Computing EHR
    Alert is a global EHR, HIE, PHR PDMS, and planning solution, popular in fourteen countries around the world.  Why take on the big boys like Epic and Cerner in the U.S.?  Company spokesmen say the cost is substantially less, it’s web and cloud enabled, and its touchscreen technology is especially user-friendly.  Alert had a large footprint at HiMSS, suggesting that financial resources could allow it to become a player in a very crowded marketplace.
  • Intelligent Retinal Imaging Systems (IRIS) and CoxHealth
    In only six months, CoxHealth has delivered diabetic retinopathy exams into their primary care locations using the IRIS diabetic retinopathy diagnostic solution — increased exam rates from 32% to 72% and finding hundreds of patients with sight threatening disease.
  • Cisco TeleHealth solution at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital
    Cisco took us on a trip into healthcare of the future. A shortage of pediatric specialists limits access to quality care for many children with treatable, yet specialized conditions. At Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital in Palo Alto, California, Cisco showed how a pioneering collaborative technology solution is connecting specialists at the hospital with patients in distant clinics for access to quality care without the burden of travel for doctors or families.
  • IGEL’s UD Pocket
    This is a potential VDI gamechanger. This global manufacturer of thin client devices has come up with a device barely larger than a paper clip that can transform any X86, 64-bit CPU based endpoint PC or laptop into a thin client, potentially saving hundreds of thousands of dollars in a typical system-wide VDI deployment.  Don’t throw away those Windows XP machines just yet.

No report on HiMSS happenings would be complete without mentioning the overflow crowds surrounding the VMware booth where the world’s most famous hacker, author, and former FBI most wanted fugitive Kevin Mitnick demonstrated how there is literally no company IT network in the world that he and his “Global Ghost Team” can’t penetrate.  With a screen showing a live feed of actual hacks to systems worldwide playing behind him, Mitnick had attendees laughing (and crying) all the way back to their monitoring platforms, wondering if their vigilance and defense strategies might ever be strong enough to beat back those determined to make trouble.

Orlando weather is gorgeous this time of year but unfortunately, HiMSS attendees were way too busy to enjoy any of it.  Maybe next year, in Las Vegas.

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