Tag Archives: HIMSS

HIMSS18: Diabetes, you’re miles ahead.

Full Disclosure: the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society allowed me to attend HIMSS18 free of charge. The Society for Participatory Medicine provided a stipend to help defray some of the costs of travel to Las Vegas for HIMSS18. All other costs, and of course my opinions, are entirely my own.

Okay, first things first. This space has been a little quiet over the past two weeks, for two reasons: 1) The power at our home was out for four days, and a day before the power came back on, I left for Las Vegas to attend HIMSS18.

HIMSS stands for Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, and their annual gathering is the largest health technology conference in the country. How large? There were 45,000 attendees.

The exhibit space covered two floors of a fairly large convention hall. And then a couple more large meeting rooms too. Trust me, this thing was big.

The exhibit spaces included app developers and government health organizations and companies who develop software to help practices manage patient data. There were device manufacturers too, though I didn’t see any business that was specifically talking about their offerings in the diabetes space. In fact, I didn’t see any businesses or organizations talking diabetes in the exhibit areas.

The educational and information-sharing sessions were many, all day long, and covered more subjects than I can even begin to describe. The most attended ones seemed to be anything using the word blockchain. My suspicion is that most of the men in those rooms (and they were almost all men) love the term, but don’t have any idea what blockchain really is… or how it could be used for better health outcomes.

To be honest, I don’t know how it can be used for anything other than evil. Yet.

Going into the conference, I was under the impression that the patient story would be non-existent there, or nearly non-existent. I was wrong.

There were some very well presented sessions and panel discussions involving people living with chronic conditions and telling their stories as only we can do.

I was encouraged by patients and caregivers who have started organizations that are doing their best to advance the cause of compiling and sharing data with medical professionals. Think “I don’t want to have to explain every symptom I have to every doctor at every visit”.

There was a session that included Dr. Joyce Lee as a speaker, and she covered the #WeAreNotWaiting and #OpenAPS movements. There were two other speakers in this presentation who covered other subjects, but when the session was over, all of the questions were for Dr. Lee.

And that brings me to something I learned at this conference. I found out that we, in the diabetes advocacy and technology space, are often miles ahead of those advocating for people living with other conditions.

Where we can afford it, we have access to technology to better help us manage our diabetes. That technology is being delivered to smart devices. There are platforms available for people living with diabetes to upload data from multiple devices and share it with researchers and our healthcare team. When I asked a panel discussion if there were platforms like this to help those living with other conditions track their information, I was met with blank stares.

A few other takeaways from this conference:

– Interoperability was a big theme, and multiple times, a discussion point. I think we’re at the point where everyone understands its importance and what it means for care… we just need industry and healthcare organizations to up the innovation, instead of letting the fire die down after a conference or workshop.

– While there was industry, researchers, hospital organizations, and advocates all in attendance at HIMSS, I didn’t really notice much interaction between the various groups. In a way, that makes sense because you tend to be drawn to the sessions that speak to your area of focus. But I was disappointed when sessions were presented that included patient or caregiver stories, with only 30 or so people in a room that would seat a couple hundred or more.

– There was one thing that I did not experience at this conference, that is a part of just about every other conference I’ve been to. Other than a couple of brief instances, I didn’t really get to interact with anyone at HIMSS. I went to a couple of scheduled meetups that were to take place in common areas, but when I got to their locations, there was no organization, no one introducing themselves, no one saying “over here”… it was just a lot of people coming and going. I think if I attended next year, I might have more of a feel for how to connect with others.

That last takeaway was kind of a downer. Ultimately, I must say that I feel extremely privileged to have been able to attend HIMSS. I did make a few connections, I hope, that will last beyond this conference. I also learned a lot.

I don’t know how this conference has evolved over time, so I don’t know if I can expect there to be much change when the group gets together again next February in Orlando. But since we’re talking technology, and we know that the pace of change in technology is pretty fast, I think next year’s edition of HIMSS should show the organization is going in the right direction, helping to bring patients, caregivers, healthcare professionals, and industry closer than ever before.

Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: