HIMSS19 wrap-up: focus on the lab

Feb. 22, 2019

I had the opportunity to attend HIMSS19 in Orlando, FL from Feb. 11-Feb 14. This was my third time attending HIMSS (Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society) and the advancements in healthcare information technology (HIT) never cease to amaze me. For those unfamiliar with HIMSS, this annual, internationally attended event offers over 300 education sessions spanning numerous topics—including connected health, cybersecurity, data analytics, interoperability, population health, precision medicine, and more, plus nearly 500 exhibit floor sessions, and thousands of solutions from over 1,300 vendors.

This year, I attended on behalf of MLO, which meant I’d be specifically covering the laboratory! The lab space wasn’t covered as much in the first two years that I attended, but I’m happy to report that there were many more laboratory-specific vendors, as well as more laboratory-focused products on display.

I started off my whirlwind of meetings with Michelle Del Guercio, Sunquest’s Vice President of Marketing. I learned Sunquest is rebranding and that it’s no longer just an LIS company. She commented, “Lab leaders are struggling to get a seat at the table [with the C-suite],” and Sunquest is looking to change that. The previous year for the company was full of acquisitions and strategies to improve their messaging.

My next meeting was with Quest Diagnostics’ Tom Romeo, General Manager of Healthcare IT Solutions. Quest is working on a broader consumer strategy, specifically for consumer-friendly labs. Their newest venture, QuestDirect, allows consumers to order lab tests (via an online portal) on their own before going to the doctor, is now available in 48 states. Their drawing centers have expanded to include some WalMarts and Safeways across the U.S. Romeo mentioned it is patients who manage chronic illnesses that are really benefiting from this service.  Romeo also let me know that MyQuest, their proprietary app and website, are now being used to monitor and share results with family and friends—referred to as the “MyCircle.” Additionally, Interactive Insights is the evolution of Quest’s medical report that provides easy to understand information for consumers to engage with their healthcare providers. With patients now taking more responsibility when it comes to their healthcare, a big focus for Quest in 2019 is on patient engagement.

I also had the opportunity to meet with Chaz Abbott, Senior Manager, Public Affairs Diagnostics of Abbott Diagnostics. We talked about the Abbott AlinIQ CDS. Today, doctors are facing greater time constraints along with more complex patients. Even with more accessible data and technologies, it can still be challenging to counsel patients. Abbott’s AlinIQ CDS (Clinical Decision Support) is a holistic solution that combines data, advanced analytics, and staff expertise to help improve outcomes for patients and increase efficiencies for their organization. In addition, Abbott’s Professional Services Executives will even quantify the impacts and help optimize use of the platform.

Finally, I met with Zebra Technologies’ David Snook, Product Manager, Enterprise Mobile Computing and Warren Zuelch, Senior Product Manager. They showed me the handheld, hybrid DS9900 Imager Series for Lab. It’s engineered to help enhance productivity, reduce errors, and built to withstand repeated exposure to disinfectants often used in healthcare settings. The hybrid DS9900 imagers enhance lab workflows and efficiency by allowing lab technicians to accurately scan and capture small, curved and color-coded barcodes while switching between handheld and hands-free modes.

In addition to those mentioned above, I had the pleasure of meeting with executives from ELLKAY, Roche Diagnostics, Siemens Healthineers, and 2bPrecise to talk about trends in the clinical laboratory. I was pleased to learn that the laboratory is demanding more attention regarding HIT.

I am curious as to whether there will be more focus on the lab at HIMSS20, but I guess I’ll have to wait until next year to find out!