PocketHealth CTO: 2023 HIMSS Top Trends and Themes


Industry leaders meet at HIMSS23 to explore how health technology can solve their biggest challenges.

Last week, we attended the 2023 Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Global Health Conference & Exhibition in Chicago. I had the opportunity to meet customers and speak with health tech leaders within the enterprise imaging space. With over 40,000 healthcare executives and professionals across IT, PACS, HIM and radiology management, HIMSS 2023 was a memorable experience. Through speaker presentations and conversations with other leaders, the following trends emerged: 

  • Overcoming barriers to interoperability and data sharing
  • Delivering profit and driving patient referrals with tech investments
  • Developing holistic security and privacy practices 
  • Improving patient experience with tech and ethical AI

Here’s a summary of the trends and insights we can leverage from these conversations.

Overcoming barriers to interoperability and data sharing

HIMSS 2023 featured demonstrations and lively sessions about interoperability during its HIMSS Interoperability Showcase™.  This included conversations about challenges providers face when sharing across networks, a topic I had the opportunity to discuss.

While innovation remains a hot topic in health information management, network-based image sharing is still an issue. One in five hospital CIOs admit that patients have been negatively impacted by record mismatches. This is a direct effect of networks that are unable to effectively exchange patient data. 

Patient care improves once health systems can seamlessly exchange information. Health leaders in the United States share this insight. In a 2018 survey of U.S. health leaders, 52% said data sharing would have the biggest positive impact on patient experience. However, health systems are often forced to rely on networks to share data and medical imaging. Building network-upon-network doesn’t fill all the gaps. As a result, organizations still use CDs or VPNs which ultimately prevents data from getting where it needs to go quickly and efficiently. 

Providers can remove data-sharing barriers by giving patients access to their data and removing network reliance altogether. By using a network-agnostic solution and adopting a patient-driven workflow, providers can avoid record mismatches, medical errors and other network sharing issues.

Delivering profit and driving patient referrals with tech investments

Throughout the conference, speakers discussed patient care through a consumer-centric model.  Gartner defines the consumer-centric model or customer-centricity as “the ability of people in an organization to understand customers’ situations, perceptions, and expectations.”  

In healthcare, patients are the customers. All decisions related to delivering services must prioritize patients and lead to customer satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy.

Customer centricity is an important approach when it comes to retaining patients and making new investments. As hospitals attract more patients, healthcare systems face increased demand, often leading to staff burnout and a decline in care quality. 

At HIMSS, I heard many health providers discussing this issue, specifically the increased costs associated with delivering care and implementing new systems. Many were looking for solutions that deliver quick ROI without large investments in change management. 

Health systems can retain patients, reduce staff burnout and drive profitability through patient-centered tech solutions. By cutting costs and retaining patients, healthcare providers can better solve profitability challenges.

One solution is giving patients access to their medical records, as evidenced in a recent PocketHealth survey. The survey found that 87% of patients are more likely to return to a provider for future exams when they offer online access*.

Developing holistic security and privacy practices

It’s no surprise that cybersecurity and data integrity were top concerns on participants’ minds. Sessions focused on incorporating cybersecurity early in the planning process. Panelists discussed digital care and how it requires cloud considerations, cybersecurity measures and data readiness. All three impact patients’ overall health journey and their trust in providers. They also enable IT leaders to avoid federal non-compliance penalties, adhere to health privacy regulations and effectively onboard new vendors. 

Instead of rushing to adopt new digital care models, participants proposed holistic solutions to avoid security concerns, siloed data and unnecessary investments. This is especially important due to the provisions outlined in the ONC’s Cures Act Final Rule. As a result of the rule, healthcare providers must implement effective security and privacy measures when sharing patient data. They can accomplish this by adopting standardized APIs and integrating data and security measures at every touchpoint.

Improving patient experience with tech and ethical AI

As applications like ChatGPT enter the mainstream, we must also consider the role of AI in healthcare. Health tech leaders discussed this topic in multiple sessions, including one titled AI & Data Interoperability: A Symbiotic Relationship for Healthcare.  This session highlighted the role interoperability plays in AI adoption. Speakers advised that to implement AI, health systems must remove data-sharing barriers and use solutions that integrate seamlessly with EHRs.

The opening keynote, Responsible AI: Prioritizing Patient Safety, Privacy, and Ethical Considerations, addressed ethical AI. Conversations centered on developing applications with privacy, security, data governance and algorithmic bias in mind. 

Algorithmic bias, according to Trishan Panch, Heather Mattie and Rifat Atun’s 2019 article Artificial intelligence and algorithmic bias: implications for health systems, are “the instances when the application of an algorithm compounds existing inequities in socioeconomic status, race, ethnic background, religion, gender, disability or sexual orientation to amplify them and adversely impact inequities in health systems.” As we incorporate AI into health management processes, the tools and platforms we build must actively include all patients. Building ethical AI solutions start with closing health gaps and improving patient experiences.  

Leaders discussed improving patient experiences by creating more inclusive health experiences for marginalized people. From research participation to prevention to treatment selection and follow-up, panelists shared best practices to champion health justice. 

Our 2022 Patient Pulse Survey Report highlighted the impact of transparency and trust-building on patient experience. In the survey, 52% of respondents noted difficulty accessing and sharing medical imaging records with their healthcare team. After accessing their medical imaging records, 85% of patients felt better about their healthcare experience. 

These insights foster healthcare transparency which creates better care experiences for patients. By giving them fast and easy access to their records, patients can easily share their imaging with doctors, specialists and care teams. This allows patients to feel more empowered and in control of their health.

Ongoing conversations about patient equity and retention, ethical AI, holistic security practices and no network sharing have the potential to transform health systems. As I reflect on the key themes from HIMSS23, I think of how we can leverage these insights to improve image-sharing for our patients, provider partners and their staff.

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*PocketHealth survey of 6,988 patients conducted between December 2021 – January 2023

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