a doctor typing on a laptop and looking at a patient

With a theme of “be the change,” HIMSS21 had something for everyone, whether participants attended in person or online. We’re always happy to connect with the HIMSS community and merge our respective missions of “empowering every person and organization on the planet to achieve more” with “reforming the global health ecosystem through the power of information and technology.” What an extraordinary partnership with Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society members around the world to reimagine health!

Microsoft was honored to “be the change” as the sponsor of HIMSS21 Digital, offering convenient access to a personalized and compelling virtual experience. Rather than recap this unique dimension of the HIMSS Global Health Conference and Exhibition, I thought I’d share some of my key takeaways that will last beyond the August 9-13 event.

Empowering health data and AI in the cloud

Before HIMSS21 began, our team was privileged to have leaders from Humana and Johns Hopkins University participate in a pre-event webinar on Empowering health data and AI in the cloud. These customers shared actual examples of how they’re using Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare and we announced expanded capabilities with Azure Healthcare APIs, which allow organizations to bring multiple types and formats of structured, unstructured and imaging data into our trusted platform. This purpose-built technology enables healthcare organizations to aggregate and standardize protected health information (PHI) from multiple sources in a consistent and secure manner, accelerating its use for machine learning and obtaining insights.

My takeaways: Microsoft is empowering our health and life sciences customers and partners to do more with their real-world data, transforming it into tangible evidence, leading to action and positive outcomes throughout the industry. Don’t miss this enlightening on-demand webinar and our Azure Healthcare APIs news.

Resilience and agility

Prior to joining Microsoft, I founded and led a strategic advisory and information management services firm called Resigility, a melding of “resilience” and “agility.” Opening day of HIMSS21 Digital seemed to channel the health community’s resilience and agility during sessions bundled under the fitting titles of “The Year That Shook the World” and “Reasons for Hope.” In addition to the powerful stories of healthcare professionals going above and beyond in countless ways, rebounding with HIMSS21 in Las Vegas and via a digital platform clearly reflects resilience and agility, especially after last year’s annual conference was canceled for the first time in 50 years due to the pandemic.

I also was struck by healthcare organizations demonstrating resilience and agility as they not only stepped up to the pandemic’s unprecedented crisis but are now using lessons learned to continue delivering better experiences, insights and care. One session featured Dr. Ramin Davidoff, co-CEO of The Permanente Federation, Stephen Wellman of HIMSS and Microsoft’s Julie Brill discussing how the healthcare field is evolving resilient models of care, improving health equity and ensuring lasting structural change. For Kaiser Permanente, part of accomplishing these goals is to expand health team collaboration with Microsoft Azure. The alliance with Kaiser Permanente and Accenture is now accelerating coordination of care and simplifying complex workflows in our secure cloud.

My takeaway: Kaiser Permanente is innovating with the cloud to drive a resilient model of care, personalized digital services for members and more data-informed decisions by clinicians.

Transforming the healthcare journey

It’s appropriate that the World Health Assembly designated 2020 as the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife to recognize the critical role they play in healthcare. From the initial coronavirus outbreak to now, we have seen nurses rise to each new challenge and tirelessly provide extraordinary care. To carry on celebrating this vital work, Microsoft sponsored the HIMSS Nursing Informatics Roundtable. It was inspiring to learn from prominent chief nursing information officers at the forefront of using health informatics, artificial intelligence (AI) and leading-edge technologies to inform and enable decision-making across the continuum of care.

My takeaway: The future is bright for transforming the healthcare journey with our industry-specific cloud and other advanced technologies helping clinicians make better decisions and deliver more efficient and effective care, while organizations maintain security, compliance and interoperability of health data.

HIMSS21 highlights

HIMSS delivered stellar in-person and digital events—congratulations and thanks to all involved in producing HIMSS21! Here are some quick takes on additional HIMSS21 highlights: 

  • Our HIMSS21 Digital booth featured examples of how Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare provides capabilities to manage health data at scale and make it easier for healthcare organizations to enhance patient engagement, empower health team collaboration, improve health data insights and protect sensitive health information.
  • Following the recent introduction of the Banyan™ Platform, hosted on our Azure-powered Cloud for Healthcare, Microsoft’s Dr. David Rhew joined Mike Detjen of HCA Healthcare’s Mobile Heartbeat in a lunch-and-learn discussion on emerging possibilities for clinical communications.
  • Microsoft congratulates all HIMSS award recipients, including our own Molly McCarthy, one of eight Most Influential Women in Health IT honorees recognized at HIMSS21.
  • Continue your HIMSS21 Digital learning, mark your calendars for Sept. 15, when Microsoft and Teledoc will host a webinar on embedding virtual care into the broader healthcare model.

Three overall takeaways

It’s never easy distilling an impactful conference like HIMSS into final thoughts, but here are three overall takeaways as we close out on another year at HIMSS:

  • COVID-19 continues to highlight the need to support frontline workers and reach underserved communities. Our team is here to help organizations adapt to the disruption, and build scalable modalities of care while safeguarding patients, care teams, health data, and assets—the keys to making healthcare more accessible, efficient, and affordable—for all. 
  • Change management is here to stay—and our Microsoft team is dedicated to supporting health and life sciences organizations to remain resilient and agile in adapting to this evolution of healthcare. We can all be uplifted by these stories of resilience through innovation.
  • Microsoft, along with our partners, are committed to supporting your business, no matter where you are on your digital transformation journey. Stay informed about  Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare to learn how you can deliver better experiences, insights, and care.