Editor's Corner


Late this month the industry will make its annual pilgrimage to the giant HIMSS '07 show, which, for the non-technical reader, is the must-attend annual event for health IT types. Our sister publication, FierceHealthIT, will cover the event in depth, taking over this Editor's Corner for the duration of the show to cover the action each day.

While we usually stick to management and administrative issues in FierceHealthcare, given the excitement around HIMSS, we thought you might find it interesting to get an exclusive insider's look at what the IT folks are thinking about this year as they get together.

As you probably know, EMRs are among the hottest topics in the industry (thanks, in part, to frequent mentions by federal and state politicians), but they're far from the only topic the health IT pros are examining at this pivotal show. Here's some other important concepts which are getting a lot of attention at HIMSS:

  • Technologies collecting health information from patients: The PHR (patient health record) is getting more popular by the day, the idea being that physicians can get a lot of benefit out of data self-reported and stored online by patients. We expect to see a lot of PHR-type technologies taking a prominent place at the show. Provider-oriented companies seem convinced that getting the patient involved in charting lifestyle, symptoms, social supports and more will be increasingly important as time goes by.
  • RHIOs (regional health information organization) systems: This year RHIOs are hot in the industry, and also at HIMSS, where some execs are running RHIO demonstrations on the show floor. Governments, in particular, are excited about the idea of building RHIOs, which share clinical information across groups of providers, clinics, ancillary service providers and the like across an entire city, county or region. It's far from clear what kind of technology is needed to make all of these groups "talk" to each other effectively, but the IT industry seems dedicated to making it happen somehow.
  • Tools improving medical interaction between patients and doctors: Finding it hard to keep up with your chronically ill patients' needs? That's just one of the problems a new group of interactive technologies are trying to fix. We're not talking about some enhanced Webmail system here--we're talking about a complex dialog. For example, a patient might enter a note that he's diabetic in your introductory Internet questionnaire. Such a system automatically alerts the physician, whose system triggers another online tool designed to assess diabetes. The patient's responses to that tool might then kick out a targeted care plan which the physician and patients can work with together.

If you're interested in learning about other vendor technologies with some momentum at HIMSS, please tell me what interests you and I'll be sure to give those vendors a look and report back to you. There should be something there for everyone! - Anne

P.S. FierceHealthcare will not be publishing on Monday in recognition of President's Day. Enjoy the holiday and look for us on Tuesday!