Editor's Corner

After an extremely stimulating (and overwhelming) few days, it's time to ring the curtain down on HIMSS '07. Though I did my best to take it all in, I feel a bit like someone who was trying to drink the ocean with a straw. Still, a few things stood out for me.

First, and least surprising, was that there seems to be little--if any--uniformity in the EMR products displayed so lovingly on the exhibit floor. While I didn't take a deep dive into the EMR systems, even a quick take suggested that we're dealing with an embarrassment of very incompatible riches. We're talking different interfaces, different integration options, different assumptions about underlying workflows--the works.

I'd like to believe that at HIMSS '08, we'll have a more widely-accepted set of common assumptions as to how EMR core functions should be defined. In the mean time, vendors with flexible clinical portal technology shouldn't lack for opportunities.

Another lasting impression from HIMSS was that RFID and WiFi based asset tracking solutions are getting their fifteen minutes of fame. I spoke with several vendors who were either offering or integrating with asset tracking solutions, and many show attendees who were eager to hear what these vendors were doing. I don't know why there's so much buzz around this solution now, but clearly, it's on a lot of minds.

Still another theme that stood out for me was that the industry is still getting its arms around the whole consumer-driven healthcare thing. As I noted yesterday, several companies were showing consumer-facing applications, but my sense is that they were still just beyond the test-bed stage.

Sure, given that the ROI on PHRs, consumer-facing kiosks and other emerging consumer applications still isn't clear, it's not a huge surprise nobody's gung-ho. But they may be sorry later when, say, payors suddenly mandate that all providers use PHRs. I predict a stampede to whatever software vendor has gotten ahead of this issue. It's going to be a hot one soon. - Anne