HIMSS expects this year’s Interoperability Showcase to attract a record number of visitors. Pictured are some of the more than 8,000 who visited last year’s Showcase. (Photo courtesy of HIMSS)
Issues involving “use cases,” such as opioid addiction, pediatric care and heart failure, promise to draw the biggest ever attendance to the Interoperability Showcase, which will be held during the annual meeting of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Feb. 11-15 in Orlando.
“We have tried as much as possible to demonstrate the diversity of interoperability; we want to show how you can connect devices and care from your IV pump to your EMR,” said Bronwen Huron, HIMSS manager of interoperability initiatives. “You’ll find different use cases more impactful, more interesting, depending on your particular ‘pain points.’ And we will try as much as possible to demonstrate the full variety of them.”
When Interoperability Meets Pain Points
Each of the 16 use cases demonstrated in the Showcase will include a pain point, defined as a factor that causes providers difficulty. An example could be the difficulty transitioning to “a big-data, consumerism centered health care ecosystem.”
Use cases will be featured at HIMSS19 in demonstration areas within the Showcase, which will be located near the front of the exhibit floor between doors WA1 and WA2. Planning for the Showcase began in October 2018, Huron said. Participating will be more than 80 companies and organizations and 130 systems.
The meeting and its vendor exhibit floor this year will be housed in the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando. Last year some 41,000 professionals, many of them providers, attended the meeting. Attendance this year is expected to eclipse that number, according to HIMSS.
The Showcase already holds the distinction of being the most trafficked area on the HIMSS exhibit floor. Last year it drew about 8,000 visitors. The number this year is expected to range between 9,000-10,000, according to Huron.
“Every year we go up,” she said.
Visitors to the Showcase will find a large education theater where vendors such as AllScripts and Cerner will describe what they are working on; the audience will be able to ask questions. “The tagline for the showcase is ‘Connections that Transform Health,’ and we really take that seriously,” said Huron, noting that connections are with education, vendors and other participants. “We think that is a really important part of the showcase and it is what makes it so successful.”
Two afternoon town halls will be held in the theater — one Tuesday, the other Wednesday — to discuss pain points. Industry experts will discuss how providers can keep care focused on patients as well as how interoperability can be measured.
How Interoperability Impacts Use Cases
The demonstrations will be going on periodically throughout the Showcase. They will include systems exchanging and using data in real time. These systems will illustrate ways medical data might be used to improve care, outcomes and patient experience, Huron said.
Demonstrators hope to educate visitors on the importance of interoperability in healthcare. Specifically they plan to illustrate the power of standards-based interoperability.
Standards-based interoperability is a critical capability for imaging, as exemplified by PAC systems, just as it is an essential element of enterprise imaging. Medical devices must work efficiently and effectively with each other. Doing so, particularly among best-of-breed systems, requires the adoption and use of standards.
Interoperability is often viewed in an aura of technical metrics associated with standard-based interfaces. But it is more than that, Huron said; it is effective communications. This will be illustrated by interoperability demonstrations focused on substance abuse, she said.
Efficient information exchange is critical to effectively address the opioid crisis, according to Huron. To keep patients out of harm’s way, clinicians need information.
“If patients have had a previous experience with opioid addiction and are admitted to a hospital, (the doctors there) might provide them with different medications if they know about that experience,” she said. “And they might be able to provide them (with more appropriate) services when they leave.”
Because interoperability may have a very broad reach, HIMSS is formally broadening the definition of this term — and is asking for public comment on its redefinition: “Interoperability is the ability of different information systems, devices or applications to connect, in a coordinated manner, within and across organizational boundaries to access, exchange and cooperatively use data amongst stakeholders, with the goal of optimizing the health of individuals and populations.” The comment period goes until March 23, 2019.
The re-definition recognizes the potential impact of interoperability, said Huron, who described interoperability is the backbone of innovation: “The more information and data you have available at your fingertips, the more you can make an impact.”
Greg Freiherr is a contributing editor to Imaging Technology News (ITN). Over the past three decades, Freiherr has served as business and technology editor for publications in medical imaging, as well as consulted for vendors, professional organizations, academia, and financial institutions.