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HIMSS21 is a “HIT” as the community comes together

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Masked and vaccinated attendees are eager to share and learn, says Health Tech World HIMSS21 onsite correspondent Gil Bashe


Attendance for HIMSS21 has been strong despite pandemic angst: the sessions are filled, the exhibit floor and side events busy and welcoming. Though COVID-19 has made people more cautious, it has not kept attendees away from networking, showcasing new ideas and recognizing that the fractures in the health ecosystem are now so apparent that something must be done – and soon.

HIMSS made every effort to guard the wellbeing of its attendees, mandating proof of vaccination and mask-wearing for all. For Clear users, the registration process was easy, quick and touchless. Clear is “clearly” making its move into the health space, using its face-recognition app to engage consumers to store their medical essentials for quick access. The presence of the “touchless travel” entry and so many other health tech companies at HIMSS demonstrates that health offers strong opportunities for tech. The big companies are present and eager to lead the sector into the future. 

The big topics of conversation at this year’s gathering aren’t necessarily bold futuristic ideas. Companies are not stepping to the stage with swagger. In the shadow of COVID-19, the conversation is very practical. We have come to the realization that the national health ecosystem is more than fragmented. It’s broken.

From the exhibit floor to the sessions, topics that are dominating are expected: cybersecurity, data collection and analysis, interoperability, patient journey, remote patient monitoring systems that connect physicians to patients and medical technologies that integrate with artificial intelligence.  The hallways and cafes are filled with attendees networking with an eye toward collaboration.

HIMSS21 meets on the heels of a breaking Commonwealth Fund study that reports that, among 11 high-income countries, the United States has the worst health-care system overall, even though it spends the highest proportion of its gross domestic product on health care. Our system needs more than breaking innovation to heal itself; it needs a complete overhaul. At the heart of this dysfunction is lack of access to usable information to guide healthcare professionals and strengthen ties to the true customer of care – the patient!

While it’s surprising that the behemoths such as Apple, Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Wal-Mart are absent, nonetheless, the major, established companies such as Epic dominate the exhibit hall with their resources and scale. However, there is also a sense that start-up enterprises are setting the pace for needed change. Many of these newly formed enterprises are led by veteran executives from the health system who see the challenges facing payers, providers and, most importantly, patients.  HIMSS continues to be the DAVOS for health information and innovation.


Here are just a handful of the hundreds of companies with a presence at HIMSS21 that should be on care- and operations-conversation radar screens.  These are the behind-the-scenes enterprises, quietly shifting the healthcare landscape to ensure providers have more time with patients and their systems have greater economic sustainability:

CereCore, a subsidiary of health-provider system pioneer HCA, provides a range of IT consulting and advisory services, including Electronic Health Record (HER) implementation, IT application support and technical staffing to hospitals and health systems nationwide. CereCore works to push the innovation and technology envelope in order to create a patient portal experience that secures consumer loyalty. CereCore leaders recognize that at the core of health delivery, there is a positive patient experience. To provide it, they work to set-up patient portal accounts and a messaging to reach providers and request prescription refills. The company now has more than 600 clinical and technical professionals working to implement solutions to empower healthcare provider leaders to recognize that engaged patients are better care partners.

Geared to reduce administrative burdens and healthcare process, DeliverHealth provides platforms and services that have the goal of transforming the complex into simple and straightforward healthcare experience for clinicians, patients and providers. Founded in 2021 as a result of the sale of Nuance health information and EHR services division, DeliverHealth espouses a holistic view of the healthcare ecosystem; its technology and services teams work to make EHRs more effective, reduce repetitive tasks and engage patients to manage their health directly from smartphones. The company seeks to help physicians return to what they want to do most – treat patients, instead of dedicating a disproportionate amount of time to administration.

FIGmd, a leading clinical data registry solutions and management services provider, has created software products and services intended to help healthcare organizations measure and improve clinical quality – recognizing the patient care is best measured through outcomes. Acquired recently by MRO, FIGmd serves clients throughout the health ecosystem: CROs, payers, provider systems, private physician practices, professional societies and pharmaceutical companies. Recognizing that data are the new currency in understanding best practices and science, FIGmd has clinical data registry services that engage more than 19 medical societies in the US. FIGmd cloud-based solutions were created in order to harness the power of machine learning and analytics with the goal of simplifying data acquisition.  

Data management firm Harmony Healthcare IT uses their HITRUST-CSF-certified solutions to help companies overcome their data challenges and safeguard protected health information. Since 2006, the Harmony team of experts have extracted, converted, migrated and retained records from over 500 different clinical, financial and administrative software brands. Harmony’s HIPAA-compliant HealthData Archiver© was created to put the patient at the center, storing records of any type and allowing for a seamless release of information. 

The HCTec mission is to discover, develop, and deliver innovative healthcare IT staffing, managed services, and EHR expertise with the aim of enhancing the effectiveness of healthcare providers and the quality of patient care. HCTec has over a decade of experience working with 250+ hospitals and health systems in all major lifecycle phases of clinical and business applications, underlying infrastructure/technologies, and program management. HCTec specializes in technology that many believe has the potential to transform healthcare.

Qure4U is seeking to provide a complete digital health platform with “digital front door” solutions so that patients and providers have a contactless, scalable, EHR-embedded ecosystem to support the entire consumer-care journey. The platform includes remote check-in, Virtual Waiting Room™, Digital Health Key™, Qure4u DriveUp™, data sharing, telehealth, pre- and post-procedure prep, remote patient monitoring, secure communication and care plan features that aim to close the gap for patients and providers between office visits. The company believes that  by enabling patients with self-service tools to manage their health from anywhere, the connection will lead to practice efficiency, allowing providers to spend more time with patients and dedicate more energy to clinical insights and care strategies. 

VISPA is focusing on addressing the bane of the provider system – revenue-cycle complexity. By employing a technology tasking and tracking software solution, they are working to make it less difficult for organizations to navigate the revenue cycle automation process. The company-designed, web-based platform re-engineers processes, workflow and implementation to boost hospital and health system revenues. Their solutions seem to be working; according to VISPA, clients report better cash flow, decreased accounts receivable time gaps and 55% greater insurance verification efficiency.

While we often think of health innovation in terms of molecules and technologies, the healthcare system runs on hardware and software, and skilled healing hands and their support teams.  As the medical system has become more complex to navigate and physicians are drawn more into “managing health” instead of providing care, health information technology is essential to reducing physician burnout and engaging the entire ecosystem to understand how to provide and pay for medical care.  HIMSS was operating in an uncertain climate, but what was certain throughout the meeting was that without clearer insight into how we leverage information and work together, patient care will suffer.

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