HiMSS08 wrap up: Transition time for health IT

Well, as expected, the HiMSS08 show was a sprawling affair, attended by 27,000 seemingly happy party-goers. Without a doubt, it was an impressive display of professional knowledge and technical wizardry--not to mention an overdose of product information from more than 900 vendors.

In my original pre-show note on HiMSS, I'd complained that I didn't see much innovation on the program, but I stand corrected. In fact, what struck me about this show was how many of the projects and solutions I saw were focused on "almost there" trends and technologies.

There were vendors like Orion, Axolotl and Wellogic, which focused on the still-nascent health information exchange market; countless sellers of electronic medical records, each pitching their own variations on the form; tools to support email based medical visits; security firms pitching their emerging healthcare options; and so on. Google made a modest appearance--when you've got a brand name like that, you don't need a big booth--to demo its brand-spanking-new personal health record repository.

Sure, IT is always in transition, given the fluid nature of the business and the changing needs of businesses. But I've got to say, it's remarkable how many technologies and business models are in transition right now--and my experience at HiMSS only underscored that point further.

As the exhibit hall demonstrated, healthcare providers have an unusually long list of new, disruptive technologies to understand. At minimum, I'd argue, health execs soon will need to understand and support EMRs, Internet-based medical practice, health information exchanges, personal health records and tighter security over the next year or so.

As you make that transition, I'm eager to hear from you, and learn what challenges you face, so write to me any time. And I look forward to catching up with you again at HiMSS09 and finding out how it went! - Anne

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