The HIMSS 2018 conference recently wrapped up and as usual, it was educational, informative and exhaustive. Around meetings and other obligations at HIMSS 2018, I walked the exhibit hall to catch up on the general state of the health IT market. The traditional health IT vendors enhanced their existing products and, in many cases, expanded to address areas not previously covered.
However, my focus really wasn’t on these vendors. I went into the conference more interested in seeing to what extent non-traditional vendors and emerging technologies would be represented. In that regard I wasn’t disappointed.
Regarding non-traditional vendors, a major focus was around cloud services. This included companies such as Amazon and Google who obviously have huge markets outside of just cloud services. With respect specifically to these two companies, I’m very anxious to see their products next year at HIMSS19. I fully expect them to either acquire or develop solutions which will compete with some of the more traditional health IT vendors in addition to expanding their cloud hosting services.
In a totally different sector, you had companies like Uber and Lyft promoting non-emergent transportation offerings as an alternative to ambulances or to provide greater transportation flexibility for home-bound patients. This is a great example of companies not specifically looking to provide health IT solutions but developing offerings around their core competence which support the overall healthcare delivery system.
In regards to emerging technologies, there was a lot of discussion related to blockchain and artificial intelligence (AI) and, to a lesser extent, robotics. I think there is great promise for each of these technologies but many of the proposed solutions are still under development. However, it is easy to see how robotics and similar technologies could displace certain functions performed currently by staff, how Blockchain could provide a more secure, redundant technical infrastructure and how AI could improve both operating efficiency and care delivery. As with the non-traditional vendors, what I saw at HIMSS 2018 excited me about the solutions in these areas which will be available in the future.
In conclusion, as I expected going into HIMSS 2018, the health IT market is in the process of undergoing more significant change, than I’ve seen in my almost 30 years in the business. The introduction of both non-traditional vendors and different technologies could be truly disruptive to the existing market and I’m very anxious to see what the future brings.