At HIMSS, Interoperability Calls Shotgun

I'm a device guy, but in recent years I’ve started going to the annual meeting of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), this year in New Orleans. For those not familiar with it, HIMSS is a huge society of IT folks who have targeted healthcare, and in particular applications like the electronic health record. Imagine 37,000 folks all talking bits, bytes and healthcare in the Big Easy.

As most people in healthcare know, the Holy Grail for software developers is to connect with as many electronic medical devices as possible to download the data seamlessly into the electronic health record. And that raises the issue of interoperability. So HIMSS has taken on that issue directly by organizing a special room at the annual meeting for an Interoperability Showcase. The showcase prominently displayed many of the medical device manufacturers, and created displays to demonstrate how they could all work together. Many of the displays were specific to a given care unit, for example in the picture, a neonatal ICU. The goal was to let attendees understand what is already possible, but also to create a forum for talking about future possibilities.

The meeting also served as an opportunity to announce some new initiatives in this arena. For example, Cerner, Allscripts, athenahealth, Greenway Medical Technologies, and McKesson, along with its RelayHealth connectivity business, unveiled the new CommonWell Health Alliance, a not-for-profit organization designed to support universal access to healthcare data.

Walking around the halls of this IT conference, this medical device guy felt right at home, surrounded by familiar names. But I also could not help but feel as though I was seeing the future of healthcare. Connected health will fundamentally change the way care is delivered by allowing data mining that will enhance clinical decision-making and speed new drug and device development. I was excited just to be there, catching a glimpse of the possible. 

Check out a Photo Blog recapping the HIMSS13 Conference


Brad Thompson is a Member of the Firm at Epstein Becker & Green, P.C. There, he counsels medical device, drug, and combination product companies on a wide range of FDA regulatory, reimbursement, and clinical trial issues. He also heads up the firm's Connected Health Initiative, and blogs for 





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