By Joe DeBlasio

I have been attending HIMSS every year for the past decade. The event – what is now called a conference/exhibit – has very much evolved since the first year I attended in 2007. What used to be a small, intimate gathering of forward thinking healthcare technology enthusiasts has evolved into a huge trade show and technical expo for every technology vendor and service provider. The amount of technology providers that now design and develop products that are exclusively for the healthcare vertical has grown exponentially, and even those with limited offerings for the healthcare space make sure they don’t miss HIMSS now.

This year the guest speakers were interesting: Ginni Rometty, CEO of IBM, spoke about artificial intelligence and cognitive computing – essentially promoting the IBM Watson product; John Boehner discussed a political perspective on America’s future as it relates to healthcare. There were many other interesting speakers and topics but these two stood out the most for me.

The top three conversations I was having at HIMSS this year were related to Data, Security/Compliance and “Cloud” as it applies to healthcare.

Data, Data, Data!
Data – managed, stored and supported totally digitally – has grown 100% since 2015 in the healthcare vertical specifically. If I can pick one word to describe what everyone was talking about or that meant the most this year it is Data. This past year has been the largest year of data growth, and concerns about managing all of this additional data are at an all-time high.

Security Does Not Equal Compliance
All vendors with a product/service or message around security and compliance were in a specific corner this year called the CyberSecurity Command Center, which also had its own stage for hourly speaker sessions. The most important message revolving around my conversations about security and compliance most importantly was that security does not equal compliance and vice versa. Most companies are usually focusing on one or the other, thinking that if they have a secure environment it would also enable compliance – but this typically is not the case.

Cloud Confusion
The word “Cloud” has been turned into a marketing term with many different meanings causing a vast confusion. We define the word “Cloud” as an operations model that could be simply defined as “On Demand.” Vendors have blurred the lines to say the least when using the term, causing healthcare customers to think that a cloud solution is not secure or can’t be compliant, which is not the case.

Overall it was a great year at HIMSS and very telling that the healthcare industry has evolved into fully adopting technology as a must instead of what formally would have been a nice-to-have.

Joe is director of healthcare sales for ViaWest. With nearly 20 years in technology sales, specializing in supporting healthcare organizations, Joe is adept at assisting healthcare IT teams with navigating the ever-changing regulatory environment and ever-evolving technology landscape to transform their IT infrastructure.