Last week, more than 45,000 healthcare information and technology professionals from all over the world converged in Orlando to attend the annual conference of the Healthcare Information Management Systems Society (HIMSS).

HIMSS brings together people from all sectors of healthcare and beyond — from doctors, clinicians, and hospital executives, to politicians, and data scientists. I’m still thinking about all the great people I met and the interesting ideas and conversations we shared. Walking the expo floor and attending sessions, three themes began to emerge. With memories of the conference still fresh in my mind, here are my takeaways on the major healthcare trends that everyone seemed to be talking about at HIMSS 2019.


The need for interoperability

Interoperability has been top of mind for years and continued to be a top topic at HIMSS ‘19. The need for interoperability — getting computerized systems and software applications to connect, exchange, and share data — remains a challenge for healthcare practitioners and organizations. Yet it’s critical to improving the patient experience and achieving better healthcare outcomes.

With a 34,000-square-foot exhibit area dedicated to the Interoperability Showcase, HIMSS shined a bright light on the challenges as well as the opportunities in achieving interoperability in healthcare.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I joined Salesforce because I’ve never been more optimistic that the technology and healthcare industries are ready to make interoperability a reality. As was evident throughout HIMSS, to achieve interoperability, we must build a foundation that puts the patient at the center. We need to make sure our technologies connect, not compete, with each other. We must look at patients’ healthcare journeys holistically, beyond just the clinical visit. I was excited to see these core tenets echoed and amplified throughout the conference.


From left to right: Lenel James of Blue Cross Blue Shield, Sean Kennedy of Salesforce, and Dr. David McCallie Jr., of Cerner Corporation, participate in Interoperability panel HIMSS 2019.


Enhancing the patient experience

People today are connected to everyone, everywhere, all the time. With the continual need for connection and access to information, patient choice has become paramount. Think about the growing list of mobile apps that you use to navigate everyday life. During the last week or so, did you take an Uber or Lyft? Check in to your flight on your phone? Order something via Amazon?

The expectation of convenience — via digital channels — transcends industries, and today’s healthcare consumer expects a better patient experience.  For starters, consumers want the ability to access their health records and get care from anywhere and at any time (e.g., telemedicine). And we’re not just talking Millenials and Gen Xers. More and more, seniors want the convenience of connected care and are seeking out digital resources to manage their health.

As Dr. Harlan Krumholz of Yale School of Medicine said during a panel discussion, “Google learns from every search, Amazon learns from every purchase, and Uber learns with every mile…  Yet, in healthcare, we're still trapped in sequestering data between the doctor and patient.” We need to unleash that data, those learnings, to optimize the patient experience and improve health outcomes going forward.

At HIMSS, all the conversations kept returning to “patient centricity.” We need to establish a patient-centric approach, one in which healthcare professionals are aware of and focused on the wants and needs of the patient above all else. Through patient-centricity, we can activate and engage individuals and influence better health outcomes.


From left to right, Dr. Ashwini M. Zenooz, Dr. James Lacey, and Dr. Harlan Krumholz discuss patient experience at HIMSS 19.


A growing focus on capturing social determinants

Did you know that socioeconomic and environmental determinants impact 80-90% of health outcomes? While medical care continues to improve at a steady pace, other significant factors like such as living conditions, socioeconomic status, and environmental factors influence an individual’s wellness. As James Lacey Ph.D. at City of Hope said during our HIMSS panel discussion “most health happens outside the hospital.”

Tracking social determinants of healthcare (SDOH) enables organizations to gain a complete view of the patient — including transportation options, housing and employment status, education, and access to food — all of which greatly influence health outcomes. It starts with capturing the right data, including social determinants, and making that data actionable. Doing so will allow us to deliver a better, more personalized patient experience for individuals, regardless of age, environment, and socioeconomic status.


Salesforce booth at HIMSS 2019.


What’s next?

I’m leaving HIMSS inspired and encouraged that so many of us in the healthcare industry are aiming towards the same north star: delivering a more personalized, connected patient experience to help drive better health outcomes.

At Salesforce, we are excited to be part of this journey and remain steadfast in our commitment to deliver innovative solutions and products that enable care providers to improve patient experiences and outcomes.

If you want to personalize your patient interactions, be sure to register for our webinar, Personalize Patient Relationships and Deepen Engagement with CRM.