HIMSS24 CONVENTION REVIEW: A Perspective from the Exhibit Hall Floor

April 17, 2024

Through the doors of the Orlando Convention Center into the HIMSS24 Exhibit Hall

John F. Derr, RPH, FASCP
*This blog remains the opinions of the author and may not reflect the opinions of the Collaborative as a whole.

On March 12, 2024, I joined thousands of US healthcare clinical technology experts and users in stepping through the doors of the Orlando Convention Center into the HIMSS24 Exhibit Hall. To long time attendees like me, this outstanding annual get-together looked like “Homecoming Week”. To new attendees, I suspect the exhibit hall was a bit of an overwhelming experience filled with large healthcare technology corporations, technology support vendors, and new technology entrées.

The massive exhibit hall featured more than 1,000 exhibitors for the over 30,000 professional attendees to visit and learn about the future of how we will provide healthcare.

In our gradual move to value-based care (VBC) by 2030, our technology partners in care have been developing clinical data application products that will ultimately bring a true focus on person/provider partnership.

I was a HIMSS Ambassador Volunteer to the Interoperability Showcase. This year the Showcase was in the middle of the Exhibit Hall and easy to locate. The Showcase had two major theaters and several focus areas including Trauma, Infections and Cardiac. In each section, vendors demonstrated their product benefits. There was an intention to have a LTPAC area, but not enough vendors signed up this year. This is a challenge LTPAC vendors might wish to solve for the HIMSS Convention in 2025.

When not assisting the vendors with their involvement with the Showcase I walked the exhibit floor three times averaging over 10,000 steps per day. As I walked the HIMSS24 exhibit floor, three main themes emerged:

  1. Artificial Intelligence (AI)
  2. Interoperability
  3. Prior Authorization

AI was the predominant theme by exhibitors. It seems AI can solve every issue concerning healthcare. The promises were very expansive. Interoperability was in its second year of being a highlight of the exhibitors. Even so, interoperability is still a problem. Everyone seems to be willing to be interoperable with each other. Yet, it is not solved. Prior authorization has been somewhat of an issue for decades. As we move toward VBC this is turning into a major issue for each individual. This is especially true for a person with comorbidities that requires multiple care sites while they treat their chronic condition.

I had two issues with the exhibitors. First, there was only one true Long-Term Post-Acute (LTPAC) exhibitor (Point Click Care) on the floor. This has been the case over the years as the cost of having an exhibit booth is high relative to the number of LTPAC attendees. Even so, many LTPAC companies were represented at the Convention as both attendees and presenters. HIMSS continues to support LTPAC in the spectrum of healthcare, but the healthcare market remains more focused on the acute sector. With an increasingly aging population, one would hope that there would be more of a focus on holistic, longitudinal care on the exhibit floor and not just in the educational sessions. There was a focus on the Advance Directive which is becoming more and more important.

The second issue is really nothing that can be substantially changed and that is the tremendous size of the meeting both in exhibitors and content. HIMSS made a major change in that they now partner with a third party to help manage the conference. Us old-timers recognized the improvements in the utilization of space and the eating venues. Perhaps in the future, there will be more opportunities to take the valuable session content home for replay.

On my third day on the exhibit floor, I decided to see how many exhibitors recognized the federal government’s goal of having all Medicare beneficiaries in some sort of VBC arrangement by 2030. I only had time to investigate half of the exhibit floor before I had to man the Spotlight Theater in the Interoperability Showcase. Even so, during this review, I only found one exhibitor that referenced VBC with a feature poster and that was EPIC. Like the past HIMSS Conventions where exhibitors focused on interoperability, this year the focus was AI. Maybe next year it will be VBC!

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) did hold an LTPAC focused listening session on Wednesday morning. The session was excellent and presented by leadership from CMS and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC). Several members of the LTPAC Health IT Collaborative participated in the session. This is a Collaborative founded in 2005 that works with the ONC and other federal agencies on clinical technology regulations and policy. Membership is made up of professional and provider associations (including HIMSS). To learn more about LTPAC and the spectrum of care (ranging from skilled nursing, assisted living, and home care to the work of medical directors, therapy, and consultant pharmacists) I urge you to check out the Collaborative’s new website at www.ltpachit.org.

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