PAN had numerous healthcare clients attend, present and make headline announcements at this year’s HIMSS Global Health Conference. We had the pleasure of sitting down with Eric Wicklund, technology editor for HealthLeaders Media, John Lynn, editor and founder of Healthcare Scene, and Fred Bazzoli, editor in chief at Health Data Management to recap key topics and trends at the show in Orlando this month and to discuss what’s to come for in-person events in 2022 (not to mention their favorite part of attending a reputable industry trade show of this size).
In general, the media was glad to be back in person. According to John, “HIMSS has shown that they can hold events again and those who attended overall were extremely excited to be back in person… It’s fair to say that in-person events are still highly desired by most.” Eric agreed: “HIMSS certainly put on a good show and looked strong in its return.” Fred also chimed in around the value of HIMSS this year sharing, “I got something out of almost everything I attended or from everyone I met.”
So, what was #trending at the show? What did our esteemed healthcare reporters enjoy most about attending HIMSS?
Eric, HealthLeaders: As always, these events are vendor-heavy, so the perspective of the healthcare provider is somewhat muted. But the emphasis this year on mental healthcare services for healthcare workers, technology that improves the workflow and the growing use of virtual care and RPM pretty much was expected and welcomed. Somewhat surprising, but understandable, was an increase in vendors advising health systems to outsource certain services, such as IT.
Fred, Health Data Management: There was more discussion about actual progress/real implementation of technology on the theme that it could provide real benefit and show a “return” on all the investment that’s been made. Also, more emphasis on how to decrease the technology managerial load for IT executives.
Eric, HealthLeaders: Outsourcing of IT services, the growth of RPM and the “hospital at home” concept. In general, I’m looking at the staffing crisis more broadly and other technology/services that help the care provider.
John, Healthcare Scene: Workforce issues was far and away the top topic at HIMSS22. Everyone is worried about their workforce and the impacts of the Great Resignation and burnout. That topic will be top-of-mind for everyone in 2022 and maybe beyond. Security was still a hot topic with so many massive downtimes related to ransomware. AI everything also seemed to be a theme where everyone was trying to automate everything from revenue cycle to security to alerts and much more. I expect this will only accelerate throughout the year.
HIMSS continues to be a great place to talk to a variety of people and then try to discern trends and [see] where the industry is going.
Fred, Health Data Management: Security and privacy are still big issues, especially with the premium being put on consumers having access to their own healthcare data and the push toward interoperability. The use of APIs to enable easier access/exchange of health data will be new to the industry. And AI seems poised to “live” on platforms that will enable it to be more easily deployed within workflows.
Eric, HealthLeaders: This year had a smaller exhibit hall (with still great energy.) There were also fewer healthcare providers in attendance. Virtual briefings weren’t publicized that much, so it was hard to know they were taking place. Fewer parties and dinners at the end of each day as well.
John, Healthcare Scene: The hybrid was so separate from the event that it didn’t really impact much. The idea that I could watch a recording of a session I liked or missed is nice. However, I don’t think the hybrid piece really mattered to me in person. In general at an event, you’re probably only going to interact with 500 to 1000 people at the high end. So, with 20,000 to 25,000 people at HIMSS, there were more than enough interesting people to meet … it felt as busy and as interesting as any previous [conference] from a HIMSS press perspective. Twenty thousand less people did make lines a little shorter and free space a little easier to find, which was nice.
Fred, Health Data Management: Overall, I feel there was less press/fewer attendees at the conference. I didn’t feel like the pace was as frenetic as it was, say, in 2019, but improved from 2020. I like the virtual component as it provides the ability to go back and see/review sessions that you couldn’t physically attend onsite, so it’s a plus for curating the knowledge presented.
Eric, HealthLeaders: The networking. Especially over the past two years, almost everything has been done virtually. Attending HIMSS22 allowed me not only to see people in person that I’ve been talking to online, but to really talk with people and have conversations that would not otherwise be had. This is a great venue for digging deep into topics and developing story ideas.
John, Healthcare Scene: Meeting with smart people who really understand the industry is the best part of being at HIMSS. In many cases, HIMSS is as much about building my network of people who understand all the various aspects of the industry versus trying to break news at the event or find a hidden story. HIMSS has a wide variety of people attend and those connections help inform my writing and the content for our podcasts throughout the year. Plus, they’re people we will tap throughout the year as stories come up.
Fred, Health Data Management: HIMSS continues to be a great place to talk to a variety of people about subjects, and then try to discern trends and where the industry is going. I try to fit developments I hear about in a framework of what is new, what the industry is aiming to achieve as advances. I also look for news about trends (reports, surveys) they are steeped in evidence. I enjoy meeting people in meetings and talking with them about the trends they are seeing. Post pandemic, it is good to interact with people again, and I feel this HIMSS particularly offered that environment.