Beyond the beignets: Leading industry journalists weigh in on hopes for HIMSS

Beyond the beignets: Leading industry journalists weigh in on hopes for HIMSS

By Chowning Johnson on February 27th, 2013

With HIMSS13 in the coming days, we wanted to know what was top of mind for some of the industry’s leading journalists who will be descending on New Orleans for much more than the beignets and café au laits. When asked to respond to “What are you most looking forward to at HIMSS this year?” here are some of the snippets we received from:

Gary Baldwin: First, I'm going to try to drop in on several of the pre-conference symposia, including nursing analytics and ICD-10. HIMSS and WEDI will be discussing an ICD-10 testing plan on Sunday afternoon. This is very nuts and bolts, and I tend to go to the practical discussions as opposed to the lofty presentations by famous journalists and politicians. I am glad to see that HIMSS has included some actual health system leaders in its keynotes—often they are excluded in favor of breathless vendor talks.

I've highlighted a few other educational sessions of interest, including "the car that cares" and "mitigating risk for payers." HIMSS really shines when it sticks to real-life case studies of clinical I.T. We'll be filing regular bulletins from the show and thus I focus on presentations that I hope will reveal useful tips about I.T. implementations. I generally skip vendor presentations because they invariably turn into commercials. I recall a major keynote a few years by a leading software firm's CEO who flooded the stage with music, lights, videos and a great deal of hyperbole about how his products would revolutionize the industry. I was sitting high up in the balcony and by mid-way through the talk, the seats were a sea of illuminated smart phones and laptops as everybody was checking e-mail or something more productive than listening!

Adrianne O’Brien: At HIMSS, I'm looking forward to talking to vendors and IT execs about the big buzzwords they're hearing. It's always interesting how all those answers can be distilled down into a couple very specific themes. The sessions at HIMSS are always top-notch; specifically, I'm looking forward to Hacking Your Life and the Connecting the Patient tweetup. It's always a challenge to narrow down the list of can't-miss sessions. And since we'll be in New Orleans, I'm also looking forward to tasting a beignet or three.

Susan Carr: There are aspects of community at HIMSS that I look forward to each year. That seems counter-intuitive; the last thing I'd expect to find among nearly 40,000 people is a feeling of community, but HIMSS as an organization does a good job of connecting people. The community of journalists who come and go from the press room alone would make the trip worth my while. Also, HIMSS has been forward-thinking about supporting social media during the conference with programming, physical space for "meet ups," and using social  media (SM) in ways that encourage others to join in. I started using social media, especially Twitter, about the same time that HIMSS made SM part of the conference, and it transformed my HIMSS experience. While at HIMSS, I'm connected directly to many colleagues and friends, have a much better sense of what's going on, and am able to participate more fully. It's as if there's a virtual conference running in parallel even among those of us who are on site.

As for topics on my radar this year, I'm especially interested in patient engagement, medical device interoperability, and the issue of safety as it relates to EMRs. In all cases—especially with patient engagement—I want to get past marketing messages and the "auto-responses" so many people seem to have programmed on these big topics. Predictably, many announcements and news items focus on technology—it is a technology conference, after all—but I'm most interested in how the technology gets used, how it affects workflow and the experience of clinicians in their work, and of course safety.

Mark Hagland: What am I most looking forward to at HIMSS? Connecting with industry leaders, policy leaders, and our readers. So much is going on right now in health care and health care IT, and it is our privilege and our pleasure at Healthcare Informatics to provide the very best and most robust coverage of current developments and trends for our audience. At a time of accelerating change and intensifying demands on health care leaders, connecting face to face with people at the HIMSS Conference gives us an even more immediate sense of the pulse of the industry than usual. There’s never been a more challenging—or exciting—time to be a health care IT leader, and HIMSS13 will be a place where I know we’ll have great discussions and will continue to learn from each other, as our entire industry moves forward together.