HiMSS16: Separating the Wheat from the Chaff

by Dirk Stanley, MD MPH

Very happy to report that I’m back from HIMSS16 in Las Vegas this year, renewed and re-energized with new information!

Dirk Stanley MD MPH HiMSS13
Dirk Stanley MD MPH HiMSS 2013

What a great learning experience HIMSS always is – And not just at the conference! This year, I even learned a lot about what HIMSS really means when a non-healthcare, non-technology person sitting next to me in the plane asked me, curiously: “What is your conference all about? What can 40 thousand people possibly have to talk about for five days?”

For many healthcare technology and Informatics professionals, HIMSS is not only a great showcase of what’s going on in the industry, but it’s a great opportunity to connect with other people who are facing the same challenge : How to make technology work to successfully help improve patient careHIMSS16_home

In general terms, some technologies focus on improving clinical operations for the doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and other ancillary staff providing care on the front-line. Other technologies focus on harnessing quality data and analytics to streamline care and reduce costs, or connecting patients with their care and caregivers. And finally, some vendors are looking to improve all of these areas, together.

But when budgets are tight, and the clinical stakes are high, it can be very challenging to predict the success of a investment in a new technology or human capital. How exactly does one best do this? What factors should a health technology professional look for to know if the investment will be both helpful and cost-effective?

And so I’m very happy to report that in addition to the new technology and talent showcases, HIMSS also attracts a priceless group of real-world healthcare IT, Informatics, and patient care advocates and professionals who are faced with the same challenges, and asking the same questions.  Many of them can be found on Twitter following the #HealthIT and #HITsm hashtags.

So when I was trying to explain my purpose for attending HIMSS to this curious person sitting next to me on the plane to Vegas, it dawned upon me that one of my major reasons for going was not only to better understand the answers, but also to better understand the questions.

So now after returning from HIMSS16, I’m glad to say that I learned a tremendous amount from the vendor showcases, education sessions, and the after-hours conversations with these other HealthIT, Informatics, and patient engagement advocates. Together, they help me develop clarity through better questions about investments in technology and/or human capital. It’s that clarity and deeper understanding that helps to effectively separate the wheat from the chaff. After all, if at the end of the day, it doesn’t help improve patient care, provider satisfaction, or efficiency – or all three – why make the investment?

T1 : What factors do you consider in a technology to know if the investment will be helpful?

T2 : What factors do you consider in a vendor to know if the investment will be helpful?

T3 : What factors do you consider in human capital to know if the investment will be helpful?

T4 : What factors help you determine whether an organization will see a good return on investment from their investments in technology or human capital?

T5: What are your sources of research when exploring & vetting products, services & solutions? Why?

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Dirk Stanley, MD, MPH  is a board-certified hospitalist, informaticist, workflow designer, and former CMIO who lives in Northampton, MA. For more information, click here.

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