Open source ideals at HIMSS12

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A not-so-intimate group of healthcare IT professionals (a record-setting 37,032 attendees) gathered February 20 at the 2012 HIMSS conference in Las Vegas. They kicked off a week of talks, discussions and collaboration sessions addressing ways to tackle the challenges in the healthcare IT industry.

Silos and proprietary systems have long prevailed in healthcare IT--encompassing everything from patient data to labs and medication management systems.

But in this age of healthcare reform, and with the passage of the HITECH Act, a new dialog about meaningful data sharing has dominated. In accordance, HIMSS had a number of collaborative platforms on the agenda. Topics this year focused heavily on interoperability, standards, and collaboration. In fact, most of the general ideals of the open source community were well-represented in the announcements, education sessions, and exhibit halls of HIMSS this year.

In advance of the event, it was announced that Open Health Tools would collaborate with HIMSS to help spur the development of open source technology in healthcare. Their hope is for a "ubiquitous ecosystem where members of the health and IT professions can collaborate to build interoperable systems."

Conference attendees took to social media to talk about what they were seeing and hearing. We’ve included just a few highlights.

Feb 23, 12:36pm via identica
I crashed the Open Health Tools meeting hoping to find ways for O'Reilly to help

The eCollaboration Forum, a partnership between HIMSS and the Collaborative Health Consortium, was a big hit, selling out this year. The forum presented a series of sessions dedicated to open platforms and included speakers Robert Kolodner, Farzad Mostashari, and Esther Dyson, among others.  

Feb 23, 7:55pm via web
Questions to consider about future #healthIT platforms: Geography? Functions? Walled vs Open? Sponsors? @VinceKuraitis #himss12 #eCollab12

Feb 23, 7:55pm via TweetDeck
#HIMSS12 #ecollab12 @VinceKuraitis We are just about to reach the era of strategic openness

Feb 23, 7:51pm via TweetDeck
agree, no? RT @leonardkish: There is a belief among speakers we can go from trillions to billions through collaboration. #himss12 #eCollab12

Feb 24, 1:37pm via web
Agree w/ @unclenate: need for OPEN innovation, transparency, crowdsource to solve problems! @openaffairs @ONC_HealthIT #himss12 #eCollab12

Meaningful use and health information exchange were hot topics. “Simply put, meaningful use is showing the use of an EHR in a meaningful way [by means of] exchanging data to improve quality of care and the ability to submit clinical quality outcomes,” said William Morgan, MBA, senior regional information management executive for Christus Spohn Health System to CMIO.

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) and the Federal Health Architecture (FHA) hosted the interoperability showcase, which featured demonstrations highlighting how health practitioners are securely exchanging health data between doctor’s offices, hospitals, benefit providers, government agencies, and with other health organizations--with an emphasis on demonstrations from the Direct Project and CONNECT.

Feb 23, 10:50pm via HootSuite
RT @Fridsma: OBHITA, #CONNECT and Direct are improving outcomes in behavioral health. Learn more in the #ONC area of #Interoperability Showcase #HIMSS12

And though I missed his talk this time around,’s good friend Todd Park delivered his characteristically enthusiastic talk about the Health Data Initiative, his vision for igniting innovation by unlocking health data.

Feb 23, 4:34pm via Twitter for iPhone
Todd Park: Best HIMSS presenter so far. If all leaders were as enthusiastic we'd solve the health care problem immediately. #HIMMS12

Feb 26, 1:17pm via Tweet Button
Open Data, Consumer Health Tools. fed gvt's #Health Data Initiative= make HHS into NOAA of health data.

To echo Andy Oram in his report from HIMSS 2012: toward interoperability and openness, “I'm feeling optimistic that U.S. healthcare is moving 'toward interoperability and openness.'”



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Lori Mehen is an Account Manager in Brand Communications + Design at Red Hat. She grew up in Los Angeles, CA and now resides in Durham, NC with her husband and three kids. Lori enjoys water skiing, cooking and car racing.

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