by Justin Mooneyhan, TN HIMSS Ambassador Chair

As I reflect on a great (and long) week at the HIMSS 2019 Global Conference in Orlando, FL, I feel humbled by the amount of really smart people confined to a central locale, and encouraged by the new people I met, learning of the challenges they face in their respective healthcare and technology domains, and how hungry they are to fix them. So many people understand our healthcare system is broken, though are motivated to being a change agent that will ultimately create solutions for these problems, by leveraging information and technology. This was essentially the theme of #HIMSS19, “Champions of Health Unite.”

The opening keynote started off with a powerful speech from Cris Ross, Chair Elect of the HIMSS Board of Directors, and CIO of the Mayo Clinic. He shared with the audience his recent diagnosis of cancer and how his perspective as a CIO has shifted (even more patient-centric now). It was very thought-provoking and emotional, and really set the tone for the week. The opening keynote panel followed, and had a star-studded lineup of health IT industry juggernauts, moderated by HIMSS CEO and President Hal Wolf, and included Seema Verma, Karen DeSalvo, Michael Leavitt, and Aneesh Chopra. The topic of conversation was heavily focused on the newly released, proposed rule on interoperability and the implications of this new rule on healthcare, and the various technology domains, in the future. Social determinants of health was the other interesting topic of conversation, and one that this panel feels will be a greater issue that needs to get greater attention now. They believe it can be solved through the use of information and technology stakeholders and collaborators coming together to innovate for these necessary improvements in the future.

With over 45,000 attendees, from over 90 countries, attending the conference the opportunities to network, learn, and build relationships were almost endless. The exhibit hall housed around 1,300 vendors with all sorts of technology solution offerings. All of the normal “anchor” tenants (Epic, Cerner, AthenaHealth, Change Healthcare, etc.) were there is full effect. Everyone seemed enthusiastic and passionate about why they were there as I walked the “streets” of the exhibit hall. The energy felt great.

Two of my personal highlights from the trip were the TN HIMSS Chapter Reception at The Pub and the HIMSS 2019 Awards & Recognition Gala. Both of these events were special, this year in particular, because at both events we were able to celebrate the TN HIMSS Chapter winning Large Chapter of the Year award, and for our past-President, Tommy Lewis, winning Chapter Leader of the Year award! The atmosphere at the TN HIMSS Chapter Reception was fantastic, boasting over 300 attendees, supported by over 10 company sponsors (a BIG thank you to our sponsors for this event!), all with an extra zeal of energy for the this year’s reception. The Awards Gala was special as we felt it was “our night” as a Chapter, having more or less “swept” all of the awards available for us to win. It was motivating and inspiring, and I was grateful to be there and share in the celebrations. I even was able to sneak in a selfie with Hal Wolf, CEO of HIMSS at the Gala.   As the HIMSS 2019 Global Conference came to an end, the themes were prevalent, the message was clear, and the future looks bright. The themes of being a ‘champion’ of healthcare and health IT in your respective roles, companies, and sectors were infused into the marketing and undercurrent of the conference. The message that ‘anything is possible’ through innovation and technology (message of closing keynote speech by Mick Ebeling) was evident by the conference attendees and educational sessions offered. And the future of healthcare IT and the powers that it holds to unlock and solve some of our industries most challenging problems is achievable, and is being furthered by thousands of healthcare IT professionals across the globe, every day. I truly believe healthcare information technology is the bridge to the future of our healthcare industry. Won’t you join the revolution and be a champion yourself?! Until next year (back in Orlando, FL in 2020), stay focused, dream big, and work hard!