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Top 4 trends and topics at HIMSS17

HIMSS17 had many emerging trends, making it hard to keep up even if you were one of the 42,293 attendees. There were many advances in Healthcare IT on display in the exhibit hall, and discussions on ways to improve the experiences from both a physician and patient perspective. With any event this size, it’s easy to miss some of the trends, and buzz even if you were in Orlando for the conference.
Nuance’s Brenda Hodge reviews HIMSS17 emerging trends

As I think about some of the topics at this year’s show, here are a few that stand out:


Physician burnout

From the first moments when Dr. Krolop, the Chairman of HIMSS, kicked off the opening session on February 20, physician burnout was top of mind. At an event focused on healthcare informatics, shining a very prominent light on the unintended consequences of Meaningful Use and rapid technology deployments made for an interesting start.

The good news is that many HIMSS attendees are seeing the rapid advances in HIT and are driving further change to reimagine healthcare to make things better for physicians. We have a crisis in this country with physician dissatisfaction at an all-time high, and large numbers of physicians leaving the profession or retiring. We all need to look for ways to make that better with and without technology because it will have a tremendous impact on the entire care team and on patients.


EHR Optimization

A new EHR study conducted by HIMSS Analytics and commissioned by Nuance, found that the majority of healthcare leaders are trying to improve EHR adoption as well as physician satisfaction with them. While 83% have confidence that their organization will realize the intended benefits of the technology, the transition to digital records has come at a cost both in physician dissatisfaction and in added staff and resources to improve EHR adoption.  At HIMSS, attendees were looking for decision support and intuitive tools to save physicians time and help them work more efficiently. Someone even joked about drones, which may not be that farfetched some day in the future.

Two thirds of the HIMSS study respondents plan to adopt new technology and tools in 2017 to support retention and recruitment of physicians, and they identified the top “enabling technologies” as speech recognition at the point of care, mobility tools and computer-assisted physician documentation, which is an emerging area. While these technologies are taking root, we have a ways to go to fully leverage and optimize EHRs to ease physician frustrations.


Artificial Intelligence

Most people seem excited about the opportunities we have with AI to make things better for physicians. Healthcare has gotten so complex that one physician compared it to flying a plane where it is no longer possible for a pilot to control all the dials and tools in the cockpit without the help of technology helping to monitor conditions and feed information to the pilot.   AI can be a game changer for physicians by working in the background to sift through records and criteria or complex requirements so physicians can get to action more quickly. This frees them up to have more time with patients. In fact, we’ve seen huge gains in AI in healthcare that delivers 45% faster clinical documentation and can improve their quality scores up to 36%.  As long as AI doesn’t threaten to replace physicians, everyone seems to welcome the help.

While AI is the buzzword of today, the technology has been around for decades, and Nuance researchers have been driving huge advances in R&D especially recently with deep neural nets. You may not know it, but AI is the reason we can now deliver nearly perfect speech recognition accuracy levels, and provide systems that understand a caller or driver or doctor from the first spoken word.

Nuance is very interested in outcomes, and we believe AI will deliver more insights at the point of care, more facts and evidence to physicians real time so they can spend more time counseling patients, discuss care plans, medication adherence and recommendations.



Last but not least, everybody is worried about security. It was very prominent on the show floor with packed sessions on avoidance of data breaches and prevention of hacks. The reality is that cyber security requires big investments including people and resources to address it, and that can easily bury a lot of smaller companies. It left me was wondering how many vendors messaging security to hospitals at HIMSS are actually able to meet the demands of healthcare organizations, and are able to scale to address their increased need for information and protection against threats. When I think about healthcare and the connectedness that is starting to happen, security and the exchange of information will require administrative, technical and physical controls as well as deep partnerships and proven results, that go way beyond messaging on a booth. As patients, we all expect that peace of mind that our information will be kept private and secure regardless of where we go for healthcare services.

To learn more about ways to improve the clinician experience and to explore a new generation of tools that complement patient care rather than compete with it, visit our AI solutions.

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Brenda Hodge

About Brenda Hodge

Brenda leads all aspects of Nuance Healthcare’s marketing function working to develop the go-to-market approach, building the Nuance brand to drive growth, and expanding client relationships to increase loyalty. She joined Nuance from Optum where she most recently served as Chief Marketing Officer for the Provider Market segment. Brenda’s career spans multinational sales and marketing leadership roles at companies such as GloStream, Allscripts/Misys Healthcare Systems, and SAS Institute.