Between March 14 and 18, the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) held its second on-site event during the pandemic. HIMSS22 brought both a healthcare crowd and the Automation Anywhere team to Orlando’s Orange County Convention Center. The event coincided with spring break for colleges, so airports and hotels were crammed full—to the delight of local hotels and restaurants but not so much for event attendees.

Occupying two-thirds of the cavernous expo hall, HIMSS22 featured nearly a thousand vendors who pitched their products to an estimated 28,000 attendees, about 60% of the typical pre-COVID attendance. Except for some registration issues and a few glitches such as running out of plastic badge holders and program guides, the event went fairly smoothly. As with past HIMSS conventions, the main draw was networking. Attendees seemed excited to be meeting in person once more. Some wore masks; some did not.

A variety of topics

More than 300 educational and special interest sessions generated buzz and conversations. The quality of the presentations was generally high, with topics including:

  • Patient experience and engagement, structural determinants of health, health equity
  • Virtual care, telemedicine, hospital at home, remote monitoring, digital health
  • AI, data analytics, algorithmic bias, AI-powered technologies
  • Interoperability, HL7, FHIR APIs, device integration, HIEs
  • Burnout in physicians and nurses, mental health, workforce culture
  • New business models – digital transformation, value-based payment, ACOs
  • Cloud strategy, migrating EHRs to the cloud
  • Cybersecurity, ransomware
  • Supply chain, logistics
  • Regulation today and on the horizon

Exploring what’s new

Attendees also had the opportunity to learn about new products, solutions, services, and partnerships through company announcements and presentations such as:

  • Epic showcased its new Cheers CRM module to let health systems proactively help patients outside the medical setting.  

  • Automation Anywhere introduced its new world-class process discovery analytics tool from Fortress IQ, which became part of the company this year.  

  • Olive, a healthcare RPA vendor, announced a partnership with NTT Data, a global IT services company, to transform healthcare in the clinic and at home.  

  • Philips launched its Philips HealthSuite Interoperability, an integrated cloud platform to support medical imaging workflows, and Philips Enterprise Performance Analytics for cardiology practices.  

  • National Coordinator for Health IT Micky Tripathi discussed next-generation objectives for data interchange, including TEFCA (Trusted Exchange Framework of Common Agreement) and a new “North Star” public health network architecture.  

  • Google Health will partner with Meditech to integrate its Care Studio with search, NLP, AI, and summarization capabilities into the Meditech EHR for a pilot study.  

  • GE Healthcare introduced its Edison Digital Health Platform, a vendor-agnostic data aggregation platform with an integrated AI engine.  

  • Allscripts relaunched its EHR Application Store as the Allscripts App Expo, which will certify apps as FHIR and private API compatible.  

  • New revenue cycle management-related solutions were announced by several vendors, including nThrive, a SaaS vendor. Kore.ai launched HealthAssist, which enables voice and digital interactions and integrates with EHR and other systems, as a self-service solution to reduce the administrative burden on healthcare workers.  

  • RevSpring also announced that three of their payment solutions will be incorporated into Cerner’s EHR to improve billing updates, communications, and patient self-service.  

  • Finally, SONIFI Health introduced new EHR integration and automation features to reduce staff burden and save time.

Automation Anywhere brought strong sales and senior leadership representation and hosted a HealthIMPACT invitation-only dinner and a general reception. I had the privilege of appearing on HIMSS TV with, and later interviewing, Marcus Johnson, managing director of Highmark Health’s new subsidiary Lumevity, which leverages Fortress IQ to achieve organizational transformation.

The next day, I hosted a special one-hour fireside chat with Steve Hadley, the intelligent automation lead at Intermountain Healthcare, who directs a successful automation program that includes innovative use cases such as telemedicine and COVID testing.

HIMSS22 felt like the beginning of a long-delayed recovery for the industry. One common remark was how much people missed face-to-face meetings. Yet, many attendees also seemed fatigued – a bit worse for the wear – after two years battling a tenacious virus. It’s too early to tell how the pandemic will ultimately play out, whether we’ll fully return to things as they were, or live with a new normal. The good news was a palpable feeling of optimism and hope in the future, expressed by speaker after speaker.

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