Think Tank | Interoperability Thoughts from HIMSS 2015

4/13/2015 – 10am
HIMSS always amazes when you first walk in. The sheer size of the conference, 40,000 attendees, hundreds and hundreds of vendors. Exhibit hall displays that tower to two and three stories. Electric cars and mobile wi-fi trucks, video games and open bars; some vendors throw happy hours where they actually barbecue food for guests – right here in the hall. If you were to walk long enough to see every vendor, you would walk for miles…

But more impressive is the fact that this isn’t just a sales opportunity for vendors. Most companies bring their top executives and it’s not unusual to see and be able to speak to the CEOs of billion dollar companies. All the CEOs know that all the other CEOs are here at HIMSS, so meetings that can take months to set up outside of HIMSS, and that usually result in phone calls, actually take place face to face. In some respects, HIMSS is one of the last testaments to the power of offline business networking. We still like to see each other, and in our industry, HIMSS is where we do that.

This year our work at the Interoperability Showcase is included in the Health Story where we use data to tell the story of a woman with breast cancer and her resultant depression. Our Cancer Care and Depression Management booth tracks all the data associated with a fictional woman who decides to undergo surgery and has follow-ups with her oncologists and psychiatrists. AWARDS receives data files from the other service providers involved in her care and we can now take the data from those services and parse them directly into the AWARDS database. That means that medications, for example, that are prescribed by an oncologist can be imported into AWARDS and put directly into the medication module for this consumer without direct data entry by AWARDS users. This is just one of the many ways that participation in this conference helps to direct and drive the development of AWARDS.

HIMSS 2015 is, in many ways, similar to 2014. The players look the same, many of the conversations seem similar. Even our participation in the Interoperability Showcase feels, not routine exactly, but the level of intensity and technical complexity of our Health Story aren’t surprises this year.

But this is kind of amazing.

Foothold Technology now regularly plays with the largest EMRs in the world. From GE, to Greenway, to Epic, to McKesson…technically and functionally, these systems are our sisters and brothers. We track different data, yes, and Behavioral Health is usually chronic, while medical care is usually episodic. But the underlying capabilities of the systems are not materially different. That is astonishing when you think about it. From a home in community mental health, supportive housing, developmental disabilities, and drug rehabilitation, Foothold has launched itself into the stratosphere of technical prowess and functional capability in the Health Information Technology world. There simply are not systems that can do things we cannot — or at least not for very long. Indeed, AWARDS can now do things that some of these billion dollar EMRs cannot!

In many cases, of course, our clients are less concerned about when we are going to implement a FHIR exchange than they are in getting AWARDS to produce a report that looks exactly like the one their funder is expecting. But that doesn’t mean that what we do with the Interoperability Showcase at HIMSS, with our Meaningful Use Certification, with our participation in the Connectathon are irrelevant. On the contrary, the one difference between this HIMSS and the last one is that a lot of the things we used to just talk about, like data exchanges, the shifting of funding streams to some kind of value-based alternative payment model, those things are beginning to actually happen. That means that Foothold Technology will be there when our clients get there.