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At HIMSS “It’s Deja Vou All Over Again”

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Having spent last week in Las Vegas attending my 25th (I’m old) HIMSS meeting, with over 40,000 other brave souls, I’m reminded of Yogi Berra’s often used quote. According to my fitbit, I walked over 10.9 miles the first day and subsequently added another 11.3 miles before collapsing on the airplane home. And, while my walking prowess is interesting, it’s what I saw and observed that compels me to write this morning and use the Berra quote. I saw dozen’s of presentations on the floor and was struck that most of the issues and problems that were being addressed have been talked about for years and even sometimes decades. The first discussion around EMR’s was way back in the early 90’s.

Thank God our industry is filled with many conscientious, hard working folks trying to make a difference. We know we’re both problem solvers as well as participants in this health Eco-system that we all have spent our lives trying to improve. My belief is that we’ve reached a tipping point where just talking about what has to take place is no longer going to be suffice. Our industry has got to come to grips with the anger and frustration of both patients and caregivers over the state of our healthcare system that does not cater to providing the highest quality for the lowest price.

A system designed around care delivery, albeit not very well, not patients.

A system that has become so expensive, 18% of GDP, to make us non-competitive in a world that shows us daily that most do not fear our economic prowess anymore.

A system where patient’s opinions have to be accounted for and dealt with while the occasion of service is being rendered. At one of the presentations at HIMSS a well-known CIO stated that Twitter complaints don’t matter. REALLY???

As the value-based pricing models begin to take hold there is no question that the lack of transparency that most of us have into the system has to disappear. The more the patient has to pay the more questions they have, the more options they’ll pursue, and settling for the pat answers we’ve been giving are at an end. I worry that our history of innovation in information technology, a slow and steady course, is going to get replaced with an aggressive fast paced model that will make even the largest players in our space shiver. I’m afraid that the conventional wisdom of most of our current businesses processes will have to be replaced by those that recognize that old patterns of thinking can no longer be supported. If you are not disrupting your status quo, then you’ll be what’s for dinner as we go over that tipping point. This has happened to every other industry but ours and it’s now our time in that barrel. Are we prepared for this new reality?

The good news is that I saw lots of innovative thinking on the perimeter of the Las Vegas event. What we should be doing is putting the new innovation at the center of the event and allow the “old guard” to be on the perimeter so at least you’d have the opportunity to see what’s out there. I know that will never happen!!! The even better news is that healthcare has always been an industry that has rewarded new ideas as you can tell by the number of start-ups our industry spawns every year. I saw and talked to many folks in the banking and private equity space that are trying to find the next Uber or Facebook in healthcare. I also saw an international presence that is becoming more prominent. We Americans tend to believe that the world revolves around our solutions and us even though we represent a mere 5% of the world’s population. Every nation has healthcare issues that need to be solved.

We all complain every year about going to HIMSS, don’t we??? But every year that I go, I come back more motivated about the possibilities of making a difference. So while the subjects may be the same, the solutions continue to evolve. See you next year in Orlando!!!