A reporter's humble expectations for HIMSS14

By Diana Manos
03:56 PM
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This will be my eighth year covering the HIMSS annual conference and expo, and my third time doing so in Orlando. I wish I could say I’m going for the sunshine, but like many of you, I probably won’t even see the light of day except to catch a few cabs here and there.

But little does that matter. I’m going for the buzz.

It’s undeniable that HIMSS is an overwhelming cup of exquisite insight into health information technology.

This year, in particular, I’m eager to talk to mobile app companies. I want to know if the ruckus on Capitol Hill is justified. Should Congress step in and help regulate apps, or is the FDA on the right track?

I have my own personal feelings about the issue, being somewhat jaded from covering Washington for twenty years. Politicians don’t always have the little guy in mind. (I think I can say that here, right? This is a blog.)  And at times, I get the impression some members of Congress don’t know enough about the intricacies of health IT to adequately legislate it. It’s a fairly complex topic. It needs complex legislative answers — the right legislative answers. Politicians are experts at politics. CIOs are experts at technology. App developers are experts at app developing. Well, you get the picture.

I would like to cull the show floor for opinions on this and other political matters. On FDA versus Congress on regulating mobile health apps, I’d like to find out. Are the horror stories true? Is FDA holding back innovation? I want to hear it from the horses’ mouths.

I’d also like to bask in the brilliant modern miracle that is mobile health technology. It never ceases to amaze me just how fast developments are coming and just how fast they are going to change all of our lives. It’s mind-blowing! It’s so exciting!

And, it wouldn’t be HIMSS if I didn’t stop in on the interoperability showcase. This is where the rubber meets the road. It’s exciting to take a test drive, see how far we’re coming, see how far we have yet to go.

I'm picturing my first day as I'm leaving the whirlwind of the expo hall, and as I walk down the teaming hallways of the educational sessions. I'll just be feeling the professional hum in the background as people are sharing ideas, learning things, exchanging contact information, building business dreams, searching for ways to make healthcare better, and I'll look at the faces that pass me by.

Strong faces, wise faces, most of them in my Baby Boomer age-bracket. Well-groomed, energetic, highly educated leaders of this effort, all. Though many will attend because of their job, I have noticed one thing for sure, it’s not “just a job” for most. It’s a passion. These are, after all, the very souls steering the wheel to push the greatest health revolution of all time, and one that someday my grandson will hopefully take for granted.

I can’t help but think of an interview I recently had with Farzad Mostashari, MD, when he was still the National Coordinator for Health IT. He said he is forever drawn to this work because it can relieve human suffering.

And so, to me, that’s the bottom line. I agree with him. Health IT can do more for relieving human suffering than almost anything else on the planet — even more than medicine. (Just hear me out!) Medicine is wonderful, such a blessing, so amazing, a life- saver, literally. We couldn’t live without it. But health IT can take that medicine, along with the genomic data; the big population health data; and use it to take this thing to a cosmic level of healing … and prevention.

So yes, I’ll be out on the show floor and in education sessions, frantically scribbling notes and rushing to file my stories on time for the Show Dailies. (Please pick up your free copy every day!). I’ll be busy and hyper and tired and have sore feet and a hoarse throat from talking — just like you, no doubt, but I’ll be part of something. Something really big.

And that’s what I’m looking forward to at HIMSS this year.

What are you looking forward to?