HIMSS18 Interoperability Showcase puts focus on opioid epidemic, transplants and more

Beyond those and many other use cases, the longtime health data exchange demo and networking spot looks toward a bright future of LT-PAC expansion, APIs and other innovations.
By Mike Miliard
01:04 PM

The HIMSS Interoperability Showcase is a perennial favorite at the annual conference, visited by thousands of attendees looking to see use case demonstrations of data exchange at work.

This year, the 34,000-square-foot exhibition will offer ample opportunity to talk with more than 80 vendors, providers and other stakeholders as you watch technology (120-plus systems) in action. There will also be plenty of chances to network, compare notes and learn about best practices across an array of different real-world use cases.

The big themes for the Interoperability Showcase in Las Vegas are "content and discovery," said Christel Anderson, senior director of interoperability initiatives for HIMSS.

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The new Discovery Center at the showcase offers the chance to see short demonstrations of leading-edge products using standards-based exchange, for instance – a hands-on and up-close look at technology beyond that used in the usual clinical settings.

For instance, one of the exchange tools being demonstrated will be from a vendor focused on the long-term and post-acute space, which has lagged other areas since largely being left out of meaningful use. "LT-PAC is one of the slower IT adopters, but this is really an opportunity to expand the showcase footprint into other care coordination settings," said Anderson.

The Discovery Center also highlights the people behind the technology, with demonstrations and networking events with leaders from IHE, ConCert by HIMSS, Continua and more.

"You can come in and interact with these subject matter experts and get information one-on-one," said Anderson.

As for educational content, HIMSS has focused on an array of interoperability use cases focused on person-centered outcomes.

"We've significantly expanded our content stories," said Anderson, who said the aim is to home in on some of the most timely and widely felt phenomena affecting the healthcare industry today.

For instance, at HIMSS18 the showcase will show how interoperability technology can improve the speed and safety of organ transplants, "communicating when transplants are available. Making sure the transplant is getting to the other person as quickly as possible."

Another big focus is on the ongoing opioid epidemic," she said: "IT has a huge opportunity to help address that from a medication management perspective."

And a third use case to be demonstrated is how data exchange can help treat heart attacks, said Anderson.

"We're focusing on the issues that are taking up a lot of the healthcare industry and a lot of clinicians' workload," she said. "While heart attacks is something we might not have focused on in the past, we're really focusing now on ways we can bring value when people have cardiac events in real time."

Interoperability is much, much bigger than a roped-off exhibit space on a convention center show floor, of course. It's a worldwide imperative that affects all corners of the healthcare industry and hundreds of millions of lives.

Bit by bit, each year the HIMSS conference helps maintain the forward momentum as the industry matures and the goal of easy, seamless and widespread health data exchange comes further into focus.

"I feel strongly that we have moved the bar pretty high," said Anderson. "Before I first took over this position two years ago, I had previously worked with clinicians, and interoperability for them was just a very long phrase with a lot of syllables.

"People said, 'Oh, that's the tech folks, it's for the standards gurus, it's not really for us," she said. "Now you'll see that many clinicians, many executive leaders are very concerned with the interoperability challenges they have – and how they can help address them. You see a lot more in Congress and different federal agencies – even the White House just had an interoperability summit in December."

Now that interoperability is moving toward the mainstream, healthcare as an industry has the opportunity to take a hard look at what’s currently available, constraints of present=day assumptions and how best to move forward. 

"When you think about standards, we're now moving into newer areas, such as FHIR protocols and APIs ,” she said. “How those are all going to connect? Interoperability is that much-needed glue that everyone is at least thinking about."

The HIMSS18 Interoperability Showcase is a Booth 11955.

HIMSS18 Preview

An inside look at the innovation, education, technology, networking and key events at the HIMSS18 global conference in Las Vegas.

Twitter: @MikeMiliardHITN
Email the writer: mike.miliard@himssmedia.com

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