Las Vegas is set to roll out the silicon carpet for HIMSS21, the healthcare technology party of the year. The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society has selected “Be The Change” as the theme for this year’s conference. We asked our parent company Pixel Health’s team going to HIMSS 2021 to expand on what this year’s conference, under these most unusual circumstances, means to them.
Thanks to COVID, the healthcare technology party of the year has lost some of its luster but Las Vegas is set to roll out the silicon carpet (if they can find enough chips!) for HIMSS21. Attendance is expected to be off by more than 50% due in part to travel restrictions, the fact that only 640 exhibitors will display their wares (compared to 1330 in 2019), and maybe because August in Las Vegas is probably not the most popular of travel destinations.
But the show must go on and The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society has selected “Be The Change” as the theme for this year’s conference. We asked our parent company Pixel Health’s team going to HIMSS 2021, including our own CEO Bill Evans, to expand on what this year’s conference, under these most unusual circumstances, means to them.
Barbara Casey, Chief Revenue Officer and President, Nectar Strategic Consulting
If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that everything can change on a dime. All types of digital changes that the healthcare industry has been trying to make for decades, came at us all at once and there was a very real sense of urgency. Hopefully, that’s reinvigorated the industry around digital transformation and I’m hoping that means that it’s finally time to do the hard work of changing the actual business processes and clinical workflows. Tackling the inefficiencies in care delivery and the user experiences for clinicians and patients alike will make these changes sustainable.
Michael Feld. Chief Executive Officer, Pixel Health
To survive in this business today, it’s always been about change. One of the basic elements of our Pixel Health ecosystem is our catalytic nature. We are agents of change. We make it easier for our hospitals to do things that they know they should be doing, but lack various elements, resources, and the impetus to make those changes. In that sense “be the change” might be a momentary alignment with a statement that we’ve operated on from the very beginning.
What kind of shift, if any, are we seeing in the healthcare industry as a result of the last year?
Bill Evans, President, Liberty Fox Technologies
It’s my hope that the pandemic has been a bit of a wake-up call for health care organizations to start really investing in their technical debt and bringing their systems up to par. Traditionally, I have observed that as it relates to software technology, the health care industry tends to be at least 10 to 15 years behind any other industry. I would love to see it take strides to catch up.
Mike Machulsky, Executive Vice President for Strategic Partnerships, Pixel Health
For many organizations, two years-worth of transformation was completed in 2 months out of necessity. Hybrid work and care delivery (in-person + virtual) represents one of the biggest shifts we have seen in a generation. And it is here to stay. This is requiring all organizations to adopt a new operating model.
There’s no question that Telemedicine grew at an exponential rate but what’s needed now is to have Telemedicine and clinical workflow become much more integrated. In a way, we must slow down and re-evaluate what we sped up to achieve over the last year. It’s important now to understand what we’ve taken on as new processes, new vendors, and new digital solutions to make those fit into the clinical workflow. Let’s step back and be more strategic.
Is there anything specific you’ll be looking out for in Las Vegas?
One of the things I want to focus on, and I think HIMSS is the right venue, is what people in hospitals are calling digital transformation. To our companies, it’s a very specific term that means creating the environment or modifying the experiences that a patient has and making it more like what Amazon and other very well-developed, very slick E-platform service providers do. To make healthcare do that is an enormous task. And I think at HIMSS, this is something that many of the vendors are all kind of circling around.
I would love to see if anybody is doing anything with blockchain that they are demonstrating at the conference. I’m a major proponent of blockchain but there seems to be a lot of talk and not a whole lot of implementation. As I’ve written about before, the healthcare industry needs an MVE or Minimal Viable Environment for blockchain implementation. The future of blockchain in healthcare will depend on a minimum number of providers to get together for the betterment of the whole. Without an MVE, then blockchain is worthless. Think of it like the Internet. The power of the Internet is in direct correlation to the number of people using it. The Internet is the Internet because of the number of computers that are on it, not any one particular computer.
Vegas is a great place to go shopping. Will hospitals be bringing their checkbooks to HIMSS 2021 or is this a window-shopping experience this year?
Hospital budgets have probably been hurt by their financial performance during the pandemic. With that said, there was some realization that things were missing in terms of their digital strategies, and capabilities. Now, the prioritization of what is in those budgets will go towards technology and digital health solutions. In many cases, there might be other areas as well, but technology would be a huge recipient of any budgetary revision because of last year.
When the pandemic was gaining momentum in the spring of 2020, budgets were slashed across the board due to the negative impact on top line revenue (from elective procedures and consults evaporating). We are now seeing a strong rebound and ‘pent up demand’ – investment is happening in all areas to improve resiliency, to better manage risk, to enhance digital capability, to increase patient/family experience, and to drive growth.
Budgets are not going to change overall significantly. I think realignment within them will. That’s something we think is good. There’s a lot of waste in healthcare IT budgets, both on the material side and on the manpower side. I see more money being spent on integration and the analysis that leads to that integration. So, for those manufacturers (hardware, software or services) that address those two things, this is going to be quite profitable for them.
So let’s roll the dice. HIMSS21 is right around the corner.