HIMSS 2012 in Retrospect – From Patient Engagement to Big Data. Viva Las Vegas or Tumbling Dice?

Jane Sarasohn-Kahn | Health Populi | February 24, 2012

The record attendance at HIMSS12, in terms of both attendees (numbering some 38,000) and exhibitors, illustrated just how hot health information technology has become in the 20 years since I first began attending this meeting — when it was only a few thousand hospital computer geeks and materials managers picking up pocket protectors and calculators from vendors.

At this year’s conference, the major concerns were when Stage 2 meaningful use details would be revealed. HIMSS communications leadership in the press room thought it would be Tuesday, then Wednesday. Finally, it was Thursday the 23rd of February when Farzad Mostashari, National Coordinator for Health IT at the Department of Health and Human Services, said to a press conference of HIT reporters that the regs were, “At the Federal Register; they are having formatting issues….(the regs) are going to get promoted; I think people should just chill.”

Chill? The questions surrounding what would be included, downplayed, or enhanced for Stage 2 was a main topic of conversation all week at HIMSS. Of course, business was transacted without these details as the heavy lifting (or implementing, as it were) continues on adopting electronic health records and using them in ways that will ensure providers win their fair share of incentives flowing from the HITECH Act included in the stimulus bill (ARRA).