HIMSS 2019: Insights, Trends and Takeaways for the Future of Health IT

Mar 6, 2019

Last month, 45,000 attendees gathered in Orlando for HIMSS 2019, the largest health IT event of the year. Several Boston Scientific leaders, including Digital Health Solutions Strategic Advisor Naeem Hashmi were in attendance. In Naeem’s role at Boston Scientific, he addresses complicated digital health product design challenges. In one of his most recent projects, he served as a GDPR Privacy Champion, helping to ensure the design of our digital health products are compliant with GDPR, HIPAA, CCPA and other global privacy regulations.


At HIMSS, Naeem moderated two panel presentations focused on cybersecurity and data analytics. Here, he reflects on those discussions and shares his take on upcoming trends in health IT.


What were some of the most talked about topics at HIMSS this year?


It’s hard to pick one or two, because there was really something for everyone. It was interesting to see the greater focus on social determinants of health in care coordination and population health solutions. Attendees were also talking a lot about Artificial Intelligence and wanting to understand the hype versus reality of these emerging technologies.


Cybersecurity was one of the most frequently discussed topics with health IT vendors because addressing cybersecurity concerns is an ongoing challenge for care providers. Today, most electronic medical records (EMRs) and networked medical devices are not designed to address cyber hacking challenges. In order to safeguard systems, vendors need to design products with security and privacy as a foundation of the product’s architecture. Last year, 80% of all HIPAA violations were attributable to organizational policies and procedures enforcements—not to technology. Our industry must recognize that building a “culture of compliance” is just as, if not more important, than our technological infrastructure to resolve these concerns—and this is an area where I’m pleased to say that Boston Scientific has a strong track record.


While at HIMSS you also presented on a panel about data and analytics. What’s changing in this space? 


Adoption of new technologies in the healthcare industry is often slow. However, it is refreshing to see that many teaching hospitals are building analytics platforms designed to address value-based care needs. Today, many of these analytics are not fully integrated within EMRs, and these programs could realize their full potential with a focus on artificial intelligence algorithms. Analytics offer a wonderful opportunity to improve patient care, but their true value will only be possible when the data insight can be easily integrated at the point of care. This tipping point is still several years away, but it is now the time for technology providers to design solutions to be aligned with new care workflows.


What insights from healthcare providers are you excited to share with your team?


I noticed that providers were really engaged in the HIMSS conversations that focused on process improvement, workflow and change management. I think those conversations are crucial to building digital health solutions that are user-friendly and work when put into practice. In my role, I’m constantly addressing complicated design challenges, and I know that my work helps bring the product from vision to reality to help providers and patients. It’s a great opportunity to “wear many hats” and one of my favorite parts about my job – it never gets boring!