HIMSS17: Impressions from the Interoperability Showcase

Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series of blog posts written by employees of Vermont Information Technology Leaders who are attending HIMSS17. This entry is written by Mark Daly, a programmer analyst at VITL.
This new area of the conference was a really cool concept: break up areas of the large room into various compelling use-case displays, complete with live demonstrations on a regular schedule that are performed by industry professionals and veterans in the trenches of interoperability today. These demonstrations show that system interoperability is happening here and now, and they are all taking it rather seriously these days. For example, I saw a use-case demo called CommonWell Care Transitions in which the hospital EHR (Cerner), using a technical framework agreed upon and implemented by members of the CommonWell Health Alliance, sent information about the patient to the home health care system (Brightree). It was interesting to see how it worked, and to see a demo of the records going from one system to the next and to the next. They all described the means being used to achieve the digital “handoff”, and Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) was mentioned a lot. To see it come together, and then have time to ask technical questions afterwards, was valuable.
Another interesting use case was Dan with the athletic injury. In this case there were many handoffs, from presenting to the ED for x-rays and exams, to being admitted for a back injury where he was provided morphine by an integrated infusion pump. While he is monitored, predictive algorithms detect a concerning trend and trigger an early warning advisory to his care team that contains the current clinical record. A number of systems play into this: Epic, GE, Philips, Spok, ZOLL, ELLKAY, and BD. And once again, FHIR was mentioned several times for the transitions.
There was also an Education Theater that had a rolling list of informative sessions by industry experts. Sometimes the sessions would tend towards commercials for a vendor solution, depending on the presenter, but many were unbiased and content-rich. My favorite was Tuesday’s health information exchange (HIE) Multi-Stakeholder panel discussion for Real vs. Perceived Views on Health Information Exchange Organizations. The Sequoia Project, CommonWell Health Alliance, and two HIEs, one in New York and the other in Oklahoma, discussed public opinion of the role that HIEs play in the health community, and the difference between vendor-mediated networks versus those that are community-based (public). Great stuff!