HIMSS23: Health that Connects + Tech that Cares

  • Posted on April 27, 2023
  • Estimated reading time 4 minutes
HIMSS 23 Health Connects Tech that Cares

It was invigorating to get together with thousands of my peers at HIMSS23 to discuss how healthcare and patients can benefit from today’s emerging technologies. I joined 40,000+ attendees from all over the world April 17-21 in Chicago where hundreds, if not thousands, of healthcare industry SMEs shared their wisdom, experience and ideas.

The conference theme was Health that Connects + Tech that Cares, and the main buzz could be summed up in two letters – AI. If your booth or pitch had an AI flavor, you had larger crowds.

Avanade, in fact, sponsored a session on generative AI in healthcare at the HIMSS23 Machine Learning and AI Forum on Monday, even before the official conference opened and we had more than 600 people in attendance! Our own Erik Barnett, North America Advisory Healthcare and Life Sciences Lead for Avanade, walked through use cases and how to get started with generative AI in healthcare.

A few of the most memorable points:

  • Let AI be a “co-pilot” for healthcare professionals and organizations. Let AI, and the intelligent implementation and use of it, take less patient-facing work off the plates of clinicians, allowing them to focus on the reasons they became clinicians in the first place – to take care of patients.

  • Deploy AI assistants to supply guard rails to healthcare operations and procedures and perhaps reduce medical errors, which still occur too often.

We also had deep discussions with colleagues and clients about data security, patient privacy protections and how to build trust in the cloud and data infrastructure systems.

Healthcare in the metaverse
On the opening day of the event, I moderated an expert panel about “the metaverse in healthcare” that mirrored the level of curiosity and enthusiasm I felt throughout the conference. Panel participants, Meg Barron, American Medical Association, Nam Jin Kim, MD, Albert Einstein Hospital Israelita, and Mohammad Ali Raza, Microsoft, discussed the metaverse and presented real use cases of how and where the metaverse is being used today, most notably pain management and stroke recovery.

The panel shared some of their show-stopping applications. Dr. Nam demonstrated the use of the metaverse to train and educate surgeons. Another memorable example covered metaverse-based games that are helping children cope with treatments for difficult diseases. We also spoke about how metaverse-based solutions are best adopted in the healthcare workplace. In the end, there were more questions than we had time for, so we adjourned but continued for an additional 30 minutes of open discussion!

Throughout, we demonstrated Care 24/7, our virtual and digital healthcare solutions, in the Microsoft booth and we also showed how the metaverse can leap into and help in some healthcare scenarios, prompting multiple discussions and observations throughout the conference. We’ll be working to bring some conclusions to life with clients, such as:

  • Spreading the word about AI and machine learning’s ability to help to improve early detection of disease and reduce mortality rates.
  • Sharing AI and machine learning’s role as a “co-pilot” for healthcare professional and organizations to help with multiple challenges and free clinicians for more patient-facing time.
  • Discussing early adopter strategy and practices for those in healthcare ready to adopt AI, machine learning, metaverse and other emerging technologies for better outcomes.
  • Encouraging bringing experience-based application and adoption strategies to AI, the metaverse and other technology deployments. For example, one primary care system used AI to craft and test the effectiveness of different styles of text messages to send to confirm appointments.

Lessons from those on the frontlines
It is always an honor to learn from those on healthcare’s frontline:

  • According to Dr. Hans Kluge, regional director of WHO Europe, multiple countries have signed a Digital Health Strategy memorandum of understanding reflecting the principle that digital transformation is key to meeting today and tomorrow’s health challenges.

  • Mount Sinai is in the middle of a 5-year digital transformation that started with moving the system’s electronic hospital records to the cloud. Accenture is teaming with Avanade and Microsoft to help Mount Sinai build a secure and scalable enterprise state in Azure that will strengthen its data-driven capabilities.

  • Along those lines, during the show Microsoft and Epic announced they are bringing generative AI powered by Azure Open AI Service to Epic’s electronic health record software, which one publication said “might take the cake as the biggest announcement of the show.”

  • The companies say they will deliver a comprehensive array of generative AI-powered solutions integrated with Epic’s EHR to increase productivity, enhance patient care and improve financial integrity of health systems globally.

    One of the initial solutions is already underway, with several major healthcare systems and one organization is starting to deploy enhancements to systems that automatically draft message responses.

In summary, I came away from HIMSS 2023 full of ideas and eager to share what I observed with my colleagues and clients. If this is a conversation you would like to join, I have a couple of ideas:

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