Takeaways from the HIMSS Conference 2018

james cousins
senior statistical analyst

The Healthcare Information Management Systems Society (HIMSS), is an amazing organization and their Big Data and Healthcare Analytics Forum in Boston was no less amazing. Several themes from the innovators in the healthcare space became clear as the conference went on. In this blog, I’ll share the most important, overarching themes I took away from the HIMSS conference.

1. Things are changing fast in healthcare:

Now, if your experience with healthcare is specifically as a recipient of care, you might end up simply witnessing this change through more alternative methods of treatment. This particular HIMSS conference is focused on the data and information side of healthcare, and it was still obvious that the nature and medium of care is changing. Discussions of population health revealed the potential impacts of genomic patient data, social determinants of health, and environmental health factors. All of these are becoming eminently more accessible and recognized within the healthcare industry.

2. There’s a real need to plan ahead:

With so much thought and expertise given to the ways the healthcare industry is likely to change, there are ways to plan ahead. Whether you believe the changes are well-anticipated or incredibly-difficult-to-anticipate, you would likely agree that transformations are easier to handle with good preparation than without.

Presenters touched on these preparation strategies:

  • Invest in tools and resources in-house (including staff).
  • Establish good data governance strategies.
  • Build analytic maturity.
3. There is value in approaching your challenges (or any changes) collaboratively:

Hearing from so many voices throughout the conference – at the Rapid Insight table or on the stage – it became clear that everyone in healthcare is passionate about their work. A lot of people have very specific skillsets which often leads to very specific teams. The coolest presentations, with the most significant results, were the ones showcasing the work of diverse teams. When clinicians turn to industry research and pair their ground-level view with the people analyzing the data and building models, it creates highly relevant, meaningful questions, and sound, well-controlled analyses to answer them. If you’re a clinician, you have an incredibly valuable awareness of what goes into the rise of the overall cost of care for patients.  If you’re not a clinician, but a “numbers person,” you have an acute awareness of how to find patterns and control for covariates. Any healthcare provider or payer needs both perspectives to come up with optimal strategies.

4. Core offerings of healthcare need to improve alongside the groundbreaking initiatives:

The HIMSS conference was structured to move through data and healthcare analytics in a logical flow. As the conference went on, precision medicine became the focus, and it was intriguing to hear what people are doing to lead the pack on groundbreaking treatment strategies. However, at the same time as celebrating the huge strides on the frontlines, everyone agrees that streamlining core offerings is equally critical. Basic care is not equally accessible to all. Data analytics provides huge opportunities for process improvement in the healthcare services.

5. We are all alike despite our differences:

I wanted to offer this thought last because it is an important capstone consideration. Take a look at the four themes that preceded this one:

  • Things are changing fast.
  • We need to look ahead.
  • We need to tap resources across our entire organizations.
  • It’s important to refine core offerings as we break new ground.

A major takeaway during the HIMSS conference is that none of these themes or concerns are unique to the healthcare industry. Naturally, what you do day-to-day is distinct, but learning how your colleagues across the organization are handling changes, or what changes they’re seeing could easily help you identify a strategy for your own use case. The same can be said of understanding how your peers in other offices and roles are incorporating new voices, or re-envisioning the way they perform baseline tasks.

There were so many insights at the HIMSS Big Data and Healthcare Analytics conference this year. It’s inspiring to see such a gathering of professionals with distinct focuses and shared goals. Let us know what you think of these themes and how you think they’ll impact you.