HIMSS 2015 Day 1


Welcome to HIMSS15 day one in Chicago’s McCormick Place. I’m told they are expecting over 40,000 attendees at this year’s HIMSS Conference and can’t help but be impressed by how much this event has grown since my first in 2004. Not only are there more attendees, the organization of the conference, quality of the offerings and the overall production value of the presentations is quite impressive. With that, here are my highlights from day 1.

Opening Keynote Address

The musical group who opened the show was fantastic and brought a much-needed wake-up jolt to this event.

Paul Kleeberg’s opening address focused on the goal to get the right information available to the right people in the right format at the right time to make the right medical decisions and in demonstrating the value of HIT through intuitive interfaces, understandable views/dashboards, and engaging patients in their own care

Keynote Address: Alex Gourlay, EVP of Walgreens Boots Alliance and President of Walgreens

Mr. Gourlay’s talk centered around three objectives:

  • How to become patient and customer-led culture
  • Encouraging innovation
  • Becoming a strategic partnerships

In citing innovation, Mr. Gourlay Innovation explained how Walgreens opened their first store in 1901 in Chicago and have always placed the patient always at the center of everything. He spoke of the roll of the community pharmacy where the pharmacist knows their patients and is positioned to deliver better care because they are part of the community. This is an Intriguing thought in the age of volume visits.

How will Walgreens continue to play and active role in community health? Through their 8,200 drug stores, but that will not be enough. The customer is really starting to change and is more empowered than ever before. That is where technology enters the picture. Things like the Walgreens mobile app have become a key focus in moving the company forward.

Walgreens refill application has cut the 5-minute phone refill to 30 seconds. Adding the ability to chat with the pharmacist has been very beneficial and timely for customers. Today, they conduct over 9,000 chats per day.

Next, they are working on a new Apple Watch app in May which will feature medication reminders to address the problems caused by patients missing their doses. Walgreens also gives points to their customers for a healthy lifestyle, walking, monitoring blood pressure etc. They’ve launched awards for wearable technology and are integrating with others such as WebMD Digital Health Advisor platform to expand the capabilities and adoption.

The goal of this integration is to be frictionless or effortless for the patient/customer.

My biggest take-away from this session is, I should really download the Walgreens App!

Session 1: There’s an App for That

The presentation centered around Non-HIPAA Regulated Medical Data; Information from the individual, medical devices, trackables, flowing back and forth into the cloud. Not regulated by HIPAA/HI-TECH, but may be FTC or FCC.

As an example of the dangers, the talk mentioned the risks of geo-location and personal security causing unintended consequences for personal safety. I found this especially intriguing as I was turning off the many geo-location features within the HIMSS Mobile App. Just because we can know your location doesn’t mean we should.

The best take-away from this talk is the role of intended use. It is the intended use of a device determines if it is a medical device. A flashlight used to light a path is not a medical device, but the same light used to look in a mouth is and subject to regulation. This is an ever-evolving space that will be critical going forward.

Session 2: Harnessing the Science of Behavior Change in Digital Health

Paul D’Alessandro opened the talk by discussing the “routine” nature of landing jets on an aircraft carrier and how this amazing act is routine due to every detail being choreographed and planned.

While behavioral change is difficult, our behaviors HAVE changed in the past decade; just look at the prevalence of mobile phones and how we are dependent on them now.

The concepts of friends and family shaping and risk aversion (not missing out on an award) drove the change.

Incentives work, but its not just about economic incentives. We need to think about incentives in different forms. Achieving some guru status may be huge for millennials and we need to tap into what really motivates people to change.

The short-term satisfaction can be summed up with this quote: I value a cheeseburger today more than I value the risk of a cardiac arrest tomorrow.

The part of this presentation that has me really thinking was the assertion that we are not designing healthcare applications correctly. When you look at someone’s phone or desktop, they are all configured to reflect the personal preferences of the user or to maximize their efficiencies. When it comes to healthcare applications, they all look the same. This is not personal.

In the digital domain, we should have the same things as a continuing care community – social circles, activities, routines to remove stress, guides to help me keep fit, help me keep my mind sharp, provide me a new way to engage in social circles.

Session 3: Internet of (Insecure) Things: Medical Devices

Scott Ervin (@scotterven) and Beau Woods (@beauwoods)

From this talk, I found two very important take-aways in regard to medical devices.

Malicious intent is not a prerequisite for adverse patient outcomes. Get out of the mindset that people would not want to hack a device; a breach can happen accidentally and does not require malicious intent.

There was also mention of an “Empathy Deficit Disorder” in IT today. This one really struck a chord with me as I believe this is the root of many of our IT struggles. At the end of the day, we should be working with customers/patients to improve their experience through empathy and understanding. It’s more work, but it really is the only way to make it right.

As usual, HIMSS15 is off to a good start with both provocative presentations and a wealth of things to do and see. On a side note, I had the good fortune of meeting several “kindred spirits” at HIMSS today and it reminded me why I attend this conference in-person versus exclusively online. No matter how cool the technology, there will never be a replacement for face-to-face interactions.

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One Response to HIMSS 2015 Day 1

  1. Syam says:

    I certainly can iditnefy with the old gal! She is right 99.9999% of the time especially since she is now running for President. Reckon we could organize a write-in campaign for her in the next 3 weeks? Over the other 2 goofuses, she’d win by a landslide.

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