The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) 2018 conference was filled with exciting conversations about the world of Health IT. With over 43,000 Health IT professionals in attendance, the conference provided excellent sessions and speakers along with many networking and learning opportunities. Here are our top five takeaways from the conference:

  1. We’re All Still Talking About Interoperability

Interoperability is still at the forefront of the industry, with many sessions focusing on the topic. A common notion was that interoperability needs to be a collaborative effort while remaining innovative. According to Medical Economics, “experts at the 2018 Health Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) conference say the industry is closing in on making interoperability possible for everyone.”

Additionally, Jared Kushner, White House Senior Advisor noted, “The president is determined to make interoperability a reality for all Americans.” Gregory Moore, MD, Google Cloud’s vice president of healthcare, said while revealing the Google Cloud Healthcare API, “Interoperability is vital to the power of unlocking healthcare data and improving patient care.”

  1. Lots of People are Using FHIR

The Fast Health Interoperability Resource (FHIR) framework ensures data is in a structured format that can be accepted by a wide range of applications. This technology is a big asset to achieving interoperability by allowing data to move between sources and applications. Google announced a new Cloud Healthcare API that may help with some of the interoperability challenges. The new API, according to Google, “provides a robust, scalable infrastructure solution to ingest and manage key healthcare data types—including HL7, FHIR and DICOM—and lets our customers use that data for analytics and machine learning in the cloud.”

Additionally, other companies are working on FHIR APIs, including the announcement of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) Blue Button 2.0 API which will be made available through the Human API data network. This new API helps put patient’s data in their hands. Andrei Pop, Human API CEO said, “Opening up CMS claims data for patient-centric interoperability represents an exciting opportunity for the whole healthcare ecosystem to benefit.”

Learn about how IHIE is using FHIR.

  1. CMS Administrator Seema Verma Announcement About Health Data

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) also announced the launch of MyHealthEData which helps get healthcare information to the patients, giving them more control over their data. CMS Administrator Seema Verma, talked about the need for patient ownership of healthcare data and also how it’s all connected to interoperability among EHRs in healthcare. Verma stated, “Today, we are calling on private health plans to join us in sharing their data with patients because enabling patients to control their Medicare data so that they can quickly obtain and share it is critical to creating more patient empowerment.”

  1. Patient Access to Data is on the Minds of Many

Giving patients access to their data was a common topic during HIMSS, highlighted by the previously mentioned CMS announcements. CMS noted in a press release, “MyHealthEData will help to break down the barriers that prevent patients from having electronic access and true control of their own health records from the device or application of their choice.”

Additionally, FierceHealthcare noted in an article about ONC’s Dr. Donald Rucker, “That inherent love for consumerism, combined with the ability to access patient records on a smartphone, is likely to drive more engagement from consumers who are spending more money on healthcare every year.” A common theme at the conference was how healthcare is entering an era of consumerism, so providing patients access and ownership to their data is going to be increasingly vital.

  1. IHIE’s Session 83 Asserted There’s Not One Interoperability Solution

John Kansky, President and CEO of IHIE and Keith Kelley, Chief Operating Officer of IHIE, presented, “HIEs, CommonWell, Carequality Can Work Together: Here’s How.” The focus of Session 83 was that there is not ONE solution to interoperability. Rather, interoperability approaches should be chosen according to one’s organization, use case, constraints, etc.

We loved HIStalk’s take on the session: “The hour-long presentation did a good job of bringing me up to speed on the important role HIEs play in making nationwide interoperability happen (some day), and the challenges they face when it comes to selecting their method of doing so based on the needs of their regional members. As one would expect, there’s no silver bullet; HIEs will ultimately need to leverage a combination of CommonWell, Carequality, the Strategic Health Information Exchange Collaborative’s Patient-Centered Data Home model, and the Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement, which is still in draft form awaiting comments.”