Last week was HIMSS19, a huge, global healthcare IT conference that occurs annually in the U.S. The Healthcare Information Management Systems Society (HIMSS) hosts it, and each year over 45,000 people attend. This year, my company exhibited in Microsoft’s booth.

A week in the Microsoft booth

I spent my entire week discussing healthcare and showcasing MazikCare to people from all over the world – Sweden, South Africa, Brazil, Australia – the list goes on. Thankfully, I learned a lot about global healthcare from my conversations, since I didn’t get a chance to attend a single educational session this year! Here’s a quick recap:

1. Because none of these countries have a healthcare system anything in the U.S., the specific use-cases of healthcare IT were different from those that are most poignant over here. Healthcare providers from the Netherlands, the UK, and Italy all shared that their healthcare models emphasize the delivery of home healthcare. In the UK, for example, cancer patients needing chemotherapy don’t have to visit an outpatient clinic to receive their dose of chemo drugs. Instead, the healthcare system assigns a nurse to visit the patient’s home to administer to the chemotherapy and pharmaceutical vendors deliver the medications to the patient’s doorstep. In many cases, the nurses teach patients how to administer their injections so they can be self-sufficient in their treatments. As a result, care coordination in more universal healthcare-based systems requires lots of referral management and complex scheduling of home visits and outpatient services.

2. While the U.S. market for Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) is saturated – mainly by EPIC and Cerner – many other countries are still working on implementing EMRs. In some cases, like in the Netherlands, a single EMR vendor has 70% of the market.

3. Despite provider hesitancy in cloud adoption, it is almost universally understood that data aggregation and interoperability are key to unlocking potential for improving patient administration and care delivery – everywhere. The MazikCare demo on consolidating EMR data into Dynamics 365 resonated with everyone I showed it to, as well as the consolidated patient profiles and flexible business processes that can leverage relevant medical data in extending patient engagement capabilities. My whitepaper Precision Medicine Starts with the Patient Relationship covers this concept in more depth.

Me talking to some lovely visitors from Italy at the HIMSS19 Microsoft booth.

HIMSS Awards and Recognition Gala

In an exciting stroke of luck for me, the Greater Illinois Chapter of HIMSS had an extra ticket to the black tie Awards Gala. Since I volunteer on their educational committee, they blessed me with their last ticket! I had quite the experience.

GIC HIMSS had reserved a seat for me at their table, but when I showed up, an unexpected VIP guest had needed a seat there. So instead of sitting with my fellow Chicagoans, they asked me to sit at the table beside theirs. I quickly learned that I was seated at the table for the award recipients! My whole table was taking turns standing up to go on stage to be honored and congratulating each other. All the honorees were quite gracious and welcoming to me, and I enjoyed a lovely meal getting to know some of them.

I can’t pass up an opportunity to pick the brains of experienced healthcare leaders on universal healthcare! Amidst a table of morally diverse opinions, we arrived at consensus in policy moving to support at least a base level of universal healthcare. In a capitalist country with a healthcare market dominated by wealthy insurance and pharmaceutical corporations, it doesn’t seem likely that the U.S. would ever consider a UK-like model with free healthcare for everyone. But I was encouraged to see that even persons who do not believe in universal or equal access to healthcare from a moral standpoint supported Medicare for All because it makes the most fiscal sense for our country. Furthermore, since the government is already funding most of our healthcare costs already between Medicare and Medicaid, even more conservative-leaning individuals felt that approving Medicare for All would be a feasible and welcome shift in government healthcare spending. Hearing these perspectives confirmed for that, regardless of political or moral beliefs, the U.S. is ready for Medicare for All.

Fancy and delicious dessert from the Awards Gala.

The awards themselves were awesome. From learning about progress in opioid addiction prevention and rehabilitation to seeing women of color standing on stage for bringing diversity, inclusion, and championing justice was inspiring. This was perhaps the first time it sunk in for me how much a technologist like a CIO or CTO can enact positive change in patient’s lives. I am very grateful to GIC HIMSS for including me in that experience and hope to attend again next year!

If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading – and don’t forget to subscribe! I have lots of exciting posts to share in the near future :)

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