Like many in our industry, I have mixed feelings about HIMSS – on one hand it can be a confusing, exhausting, and frustrating circus of buzzwords, false promises, and unnecessary spectacle. On the other hand, it is an energizing gathering of our colleagues, our competitors, and our customers (along with those we want to be our customers). In the end, it was as usual a week of big announcements, personalities, and perspectives, and continued to exceed our expectations.

There was no shortage of news in Las Vegas, but what didn’t happen at HIMSS stood out just as much as what did. Here are a few key themes we found among the noise:

Industry-Wide Pledge for Interoperability

What better way to kick off the first day of HIMSS than with an industry-wide pledge for interoperability? Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell announced the pledge to improve interoperability across all EHRs and healthcare systems. Meant to improve consumer access to health data, eliminate intentional data block and implement federal standards for health data interoperability, the pledge has been signed and supported by 90 percent of the industry’s EHR vendors and five of the nation’s largest health systems and numerous professional organizations. But will a pledge be enough? Arcadia’s position as a leader in the aggregation of deep, high-quality EHR data is necessary and valued by our customer despite previous pledges of interoperability. 

Oh, the Irony   

Despite Burwell’s announcement, the emerging FHIR initiative and other interoperability concepts, the EHR vendors’ booths at HIMSS have never been more walled off from each other. Some booths were quite literally closed off to the rest of the tradeshow floor, with sky-high walls and only one door to enter and/or exit.

The imagery is fascinating, and ironic, in this moment where as an industry we are trying to—metaphorically speaking—knock the walls down and eliminate barriers for data sharing. How’s that for industry-wide collaboration? How seriously are we taking the pledge for interoperability if we’re too afraid to even let peers take a peek into our tradeshow booths? That’s certainly not a great metaphor for data sharing, and I sincerely hope it’s not a look into the future of interoperability.

Focus on the Data

Interoperability is really a means to an end – making sure providers and their patients have all the data they need when they need it. Whether a transition in care to a new specialist, or a view into a widely dispersed population of patients that need proactive care – data is at the heart of any solution to what ails American healthcare. As we have been doing for years, Arcadia presented our Data Gallery — a look at what’s possible when you bring together broad AND deep data, astute analytical insights, and a keen eye for design. Check out our online version to see what you missed and a real data asset can teach you.

What surprised you the most at HIMSS this year? Tweet at us at @ArcadiaHealthIT, and use the #datacures hashtag, or contact us directly.

Greg Chittim is Vice President of Strategic Marketing at Arcadia Healthcare Solutions.

March 17, 2016