HIMSS 2017: Politics and business take center stage as IBM's Ginni Rometty headlines keynote sessions

IBM Watson
IBM's Ginni Rometty is among the keynote speakers at the 2017 HIMSS conference.
IBM CEO Ginni Rometty

Business and politics will make for an interesting mix of keynote addresses at the annual meeting of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society in Orlando, Florida, next week. Among the headliners: IBM CEO Ginni Rometty, two "sharks" from the popular TV show, and politicos from either side of the aisle. 

Here's a roundup of speakers who will take the main stage at the Orange County Convention Center. 

Ginni Rometty, president and CEO, IBM
Cognitive Systems and the Future of Healthcare
Feb. 20, 2017, 08:30 a.m., Valencia Ballroom

Rometty’s address will focus on how data, analytics and cognitive computing are transforming healthcare and revolutionizing personalized medicine and cognitive systems are changing the face of healthcare.

“Data has become the world’s most valuable new natural resource, transforming industries and society at an unprecedented pace. This transformation is nowhere more evident than in medicine and healthcare,” notes the session description. “It is being fueled by the infusion of technology and intelligence into all products and processes, the proliferation of mobile devices and social media and heightened expectations from digitally empowered individuals.”

She’ll also talk about how cognitive systems are augmenting human capacity to understand and constructively intervene in a complex healthcare system and accelerating the advance of evidence-based, personalized medicine.

Rommetty is a member of President Donald Trump’s business advisory council. Back in November, she wrote an open letter to the then-president-elect asking him to invest more money in the nation’s infrastructure and cybersecurity systems, and to use data to fight government waste and inefficiency.

She also talked about job growth in the technology sector.

“Getting a job at today’s IBM does not always require a college degree; at some of our centers in the United States, as many as one-third of employees have less than a four-year degree,” she wrote. “What matters most is relevant skills, sometimes obtained through vocational training. In addition, we are creating and hiring to fill ‘new collar’ jobs–entirely new roles in areas such as cybersecurity, data science, artificial intelligence and cognitive business."

Some IBM employees, meanwhile, have started an online petition that asks Rommetty to take a step back from her relationship with Trump, saying that open letter did not “affirm IBMers' core values of diversity, inclusiveness and ethical business conduct.”

John Boehner

John Boehner, former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, and Ed Rendell, former governor of Pennsylvania, NBC news political analyst
Political Perspectives on America's Future
Feb. 23, 2017, 08:30 a.m.
Valencia Ballroom

Politics are a perennial topic at HIMSS, but this year, in particular, healthcare leaders have their eye on the White House and changes at government agencies including the Department of Health and Human Services. 

Robert Herjavec, entrepreneur and cybersecurity expert
Kevin O’Leary, venture capitalist
Feb. 23, 2017, 01:15 p.m.
Valencia Ballroom

Herjavec and O’Leary, investors featured on the TV show "Shark Tank," bring a business perspective in an industry that sometimes struggles to balance money and mission.

BJ Miller, M.D., assistant clinical professor of Medicine, University of California San Francisco
What Really Matters at the End of Life
Feb. 19, 2017, 02:45 p.m., Windermere Ballroom

Miller, the former executive director at Zen Hospice Care, will tackle how healthcare can create an experience of “being transformed by illness rather than being diminished by it,” according to the session description. “In other words, seeing illness and disability and death as normal parts of human life; issues to work with rather than pathological invaders to be combated.”