"Las Vegas," which is Spanish for "Open Planes," is tucked away in Nevada’s Mojave Desert and surrounded by several mountain ranges. The shivering aridity in the air is painfully beautiful against the blue sky. Las Vegas is also a resort city famed for its vibrant nightlife, centred around 24-hour casinos, bars, themed hotels and other non-stop entertainment options, which can overload your senses. I realised then, why there was so much opposition for holding the HIMSS18 (Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society Conference 2018) conference there in Las Vegas.
It was also my first time attending the conference which brought together around 47,000 people from all over the world, for five days in three massive convention buildings and hotels. The sheer size made us all walk for several hours a day. Painful feet and severe blisters were thankfully helped by ‘Second Skin’ at CVS.
It was all a bit overwhelming at first. Then once we adjusted, it was the perfect place to do some networking: co-operation truly is the new competition. Several software competitors were working side by side, demonstrating how Mandy, a lady with cancer, was processed from the doctor's surgery, hospital system, laboratories and then to different wards. They explained how three government organisations registered the data for further analytics and research and how different care organisations worked with medical practitioners and with Mandy’s family. With the right investment in the right software solutions connecting all the data sources, healthcare can be optimised for almost every patient.
The networking possibilities and the connections that can be made are truly amazing and everyone I met, was open minded, generous and inspirational. People agreed that healthcare needs to continue to improve and focus more on prevention rather than curing the disease. Many companies and individuals agreed on the need to focus on nutritional, social, emotional and mental health to support physical wellbeing, and spoke about how CAM will play a major role in the future. Several product directors of electronic health record companies agreed that chronic care requires a different type of health record system and that it should be linked to CAM-providers’ records in order to be part of the integrated care-team. It was evident to see that machine learning and analytics is the new gold. My days were filled with similar conversations with over 150 exhibitors and delegates.
During these few days, the commitment and dedication to improve healthcare now more than ever was unquestionable. It demonstrated to all present, the importance of co-operation and its benefit for creating innovative ideas to improve healthcare. The need and true mission of Relief from Pain has never been clearer and more apparent.
On Monday afternoon, Mr Erik Schmidt, a keynote speaker, technical advisor and former executive chairman of Alphabet Inc. said the following in his welcome keynote message, which I’ve paraphrased here;
"You come to HIMSS with three challenges in mind. When you go home you have seven ideas for the challenges you didn’t even know you had but maybe you’ve already been offered a solution here today.”
That was certainly true for me. We shall do it again in May 27-29th in Barcelona. Come and meet me there.