by Laura Reagen, Activate Health

 Innovation in all of its many forms was the pervasive theme for this year’s Summit of the Southeast at the Health:Further Festival. Those who attended last week experienced two days jam-packed with informative sessions, networking opportunities and avenues to gain real-world knowledge from experts in the field. In fact, hundreds of health IT leaders and clinicians were on hand at the Music City Center, a premier Nashville destination where entertainment and business always go hand-in-hand.

From blockchain to virtual reality, artificial intelligence to population health analytics, today’s emerging health IT trends were ever-present at SOSE, from the main stage to the Matchmaking Parlor and lounge. Networking was definitely the name of the game, with many attendees making new connections and learning from industry experts and colleagues. Most of these individuals made their first stop at our Entrepreneur’s Alley, which had the excitement and energy of a crowded street fair. Today’s most visionary startups were also looking to pitch their unique value proposition to any interested parties (but especially potential customers and investors!). Sponsors and exhibitors were also on hand in our Innovator’s Row to share information about some of the hottest products and solutions in health IT. (A special thanks to all of our sponsors, especially presenting sponsor HCA.).

Thought-provoking sessions on innovation, IoT, blockchain and more

Of course, the most engaging space at SOSE is the main stage, where attendees access knowledge from execs at some of the biggest disruptors in the industry. Day One kicked off with an incredible session by Rick Starbuck from Change Healthcare on Practical Innovation—dispelling common myths and exploring the most important strategies to enable real customer value and lasting innovation. Innovation in a very specific field—the internet of things (IoT)—was also a topic of discussion between Mary Alice Heston of Salesforce and Tammy Hawes from Virsys12 as they detailed how IoT will help address industry challenges like rising healthcare costs and an aging population. Next up, Melissa Camp from the Charleston Dorchester Mental Health Center took on another emerging area of health IT, telehealth, and how it can be integrated with behavioral health to improve outcomes. Bringing Day 1 to a close was the topic on everyone’s mind—Blockchain—including a deep-dive session by expert Emily Vaughn from Change Healthcare and Nelson Petracek from TIBCO.

Of course, the human element of technology was also part of the event’s most compelling sessions. Michael Rusch of St. Jude’s was on hand to kick off Day 2, discussing how new technology is saving the lives of pediatric cancer patients. Dale Sanders of Health Catalyst followed this incredible session, discussing artificial intelligence and the digitization of the patient to improve patient care.

Engaging panel discussions on the next generation of health IT

Another common theme throughout the conference was an exploration of the next generation of health IT—including emerging trends and challenges that could inhibit growth. We brought together some of today’s leading experts to talk about these topics in our engaging panel discussions throughout SOSE. A panel on Apprenticeships in Workforce Technology detailed the importance of training and apprenticeships for organizations looking to attract top talent. Another panel on Cybersecurity touched on some of the most pressing problems our industry faces as we look to safeguard our industry’s most valuable assets. A panel of experts highlighted the opportunities for change and collaboration via Interoperability, including how these companies are touching the lives of millions and making sure data is available for more coordinated care and improved outcomes. Finally, our Leadership panel brought together executives from across the industry to discuss how they leverage their unique leadership strengths to drive change and innovation.

If you attended this year’s SOSE, we hope you left with new connections, insights and know-how and that you’ll pass this information on to your colleagues in the field. Don’t forget to rate your favorite sessions in the Health:Further app, where you’ll also find important news and recaps and summaries of all of the presentations. And for all of our TN HIMSS members, we hope to see you there next year!