HIMSS 2011: Meaningful Use Dominates, but Telemedicine Dazzles

25 February 2011 | Jack Hersey, General Manager, U.S. Public Sector Health and Human Services, Microsoft

Co-written by Jack Hersey and Steve Aylward

This year’s HIMSS Conference once again showed us what a difference a year makes. Though we started this show as we do each year – with a welcome reception to reconnect and network with our valued Microsoft Health User Group members (MSHUG), and sponsorship of one of our favorite philanthropies, the annual AFCEA Bethesda HIMSS Reception to Benefit the Children's Inn – the focus of this year’s HIMSS had noticeably shifted from years past.

Last year at this time, meaningful use had just been defined, and telemedicine and mobile health apps were still a relatively new concept with unbridled potential. Fast forward to this week, where more than half of this year's HIMSS survey respondents said they would meet stage one of meaningful use, and several vendors, including Microsoft, showcased innovative new clinical health apps on slates and other mobile devices. Even this year's demographic felt noticeably different, with many more men in uniform and members of various federal agencies in attendance.

In our booth, the OEM stations were often packed three rows deep around displays of the latest Windows 7 slates with new telemedicine applications, and large crowds gathered for our customer spotlight presentations – many of which showed how technology is modernizing the way healthcare is delivered today.

A popular session was one in which Microsoft and Sony showed us that a portable, high-def camera, a Windows 7 slate device and a user-friendly interface can give physicians the mobile tools to consult with patients anywhere, anytime and anyplace. Dr. Hiro Yoshida (Massachusetts General Hospital) also drew significant attention when he showed both new breakthroughs in virtual colonoscopy testing and the ability to access the capability via mobile devices, thanks to Windows Azure, GPU rendering capabilities from Microsoft Research, and several other key technology components from Microsoft and partners.
Whether it was the new class of clinical mobile health applications featured or compelling customer examples, Microsoft continued to showcase the power of technology to connect caregivers to one another, and with patients, to improve the quality of care now and in the future.
Extending the interoperable IT platform:
Our colleague, David Cerino, general manager of Microsoft’s Health Solutions Group, summed up our efforts to help organizations meet meaningful use and unlock health data so that people and providers can access the information they need, when they need it, to make smart decisions:
"Interoperability is at the core of everything Microsoft, our customers and partners are showing and discussing at HIMSS,” said David Cerino, general manager, Microsoft Health Solutions Group in this week's Microsoft News Center feature. “With connected, interoperable systems, we can enable the flow of data across the health system; giving caregivers the information and insight they need to do their jobs better and consumers what they need to better manage their health."
This theme was evident as we introduced three new important industry partnerships to extend our interoperable platform:
  • Phillips and Microsoft announced a collaboration to streamline the workflow of radiologists as they seek to build and understand the complete clinical context of a patient.
  • Dell and Microsoft announced plans to work together to deliver a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) analytics, informatics, BI and performance improvement solution for community hospitals.
  • athenahealth and Microsoft announced that they would launch a clinical solution to better connect hospitals, physicians and patients across care delivery settings.
We also showcased the value our early adopter customers are realizing with Microsoft's HealthVault Community Connect and, in the Interoperability Showcase, demonstrated new encrypted e-mail functionality for HealthVault that allows clinicians to send messages to patients using the security protocols set forth by the Office of the National Coordinator's (ONC's) Direct Project (as announced February 2). Last but not least, we showed the power of Microsoft's Casetalk 360 solution to help government agencies "talk" to one another as they deliver case management services in order to ultimately improve the outcomes for consumers and agencies alike.
These partnerships, and the new product features and solutions announced this month from Microsoft, target the very goals behind what's on everyone's mind this year – "Meaningful Use" of technology to improve quality of care and ultimately, reduce costs.
Kinect in Health

Microsoft's Kinect for Xbox was also front and center. Colleagues and attendees challenged one another to a track meet on the booth theater big screen, but more importantly, we showed one of the many potential ways the Kinect and Xbox could be leveraged in healthcare. For example, imagine an operating room where physicians and nurses are in the midst of surgery, but need to adjust what they see on the computer screen without touching a keyboard or a mouse with their sterilized hands.
Year after year, we hear folks on the show floor make similar comments – "I never would have imagined this was possible 2, 3 or 4 years ago." In the healthcare world, innovation is certainly speeding up, and wi th each passing year, we see and have new capabilities to connect more and more people and information systems with one another.
As another HIMSS comes to a close, our colleague Peter Neupert reflects on years passed, and Dr. Bill Crounse drills into lessons learned this year. At the same time, we can't help but look forward to next year and ask - what will HIMSS 2012 bring?
Please share your predictions for next year's grand event, and your impressions of this year's show, with us here!
Jack Hersey
General Manager, U.S. Public Sector Health and Human Services, Microsoft