HIMSS Virtual Conference and Expo Day 2 Wrap-Up

Today, I attended Day 2 of the HIMSS Virtual Conference & Expo. This was the final day of the conference and had a slightly shorter agenda than yesterday.

For me, the highlight of today’s presentations was one from Dr. Albert Villarin called Clinical Decision Support in the Trauma Center: A Practical Guide to Clinical, Administrative and Quality Informatics. The talk centered around an impressive use of technology to improve efficiencies and care in a busy Philadelphia trauma center. As a recovering programmer, I was intrigued to discover they were using Cold Fusion 8 as their primary development language. Apparently, reports of Cold Fusion’s demise were greatly exaggerated.

At the end of the conference, a couple of things stuck-out in my mind. First, the integration of process improvement techniques through healthcare information technology (IT) continues to make significant gains in clinical operations. I’m seeing more use of data analysis for the purpose of improving processes and producing better clinical outcomes. My biggest frustration in IT is when IT is used for IT’s sake; not to make significant process improvements. Thankfully, we are seeing more evidence of the “proper” use of technology.

The second major learning for me was the use of Web 2.0 tools that surrounded and augmented the conference, but were not actually part of the conference. HIMSS had a Twitter account and used Twitter to promote and connect attendees during sessions. Personally, I met many others who shared my interests in HIT and Web 2.0 through the use of Twitter. While the conference structure had a “lounge,” the purpose of the lounge seemed more about sales and not so much about networking. Tweeting on Twitter afforded me the opportunity to talk to others about presentations while they were occurring. In a typical conference setting, that type of cross-talk would be frowned upon. Here, it proved to be very beneficial.

For the next virtual conference, I believe HIMSS should explore adding more Web 2.0 features into their conference structure and encourage more of these connections. When establishing my profile, there were opportunities to enter an Instant Messaging ID, but who uses IM anymore? What if the conference took place in Second Life and had actual speaking avatars and meeting rooms? That would be interesting. Perhaps we could leverage professional profiles in LinkedIn to create your vCard as a way of connecting individuals. They could encourage using Twitter in lieu of the Q&A sessions. Perhaps contests could be established to promote use of these and other tools. After all, how can one learn the benefits of emerging technologies unless there is a meaningful purpose to use them?

I found a lot of value in the conference and look forward to the next one in June. I also hope HIMSS will be open to extending the networking capabilities and would be happy to do my part to help.

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