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A week in Las Vegas

In Health Information Technology, there is no other event as big and exciting as the HIMSS Annual Conference and Exhibition, and Las Vegas being the venue this year, made the whole week a lot more fun. Around 37,000 attendees from all over the world represented vendors, providers, innovators, industry experts, policy makers and every possible category of stakeholders in the health care industry. More than 300 educational sessions covered numerous topics including Privacy and Security, Lessons Learned from large scale EHR implementation, Meaningful Use,  EHR Certification, Mobile Apps, Interoperability and Standardization.

The venue for the conference was the Venetian Sands Expo Center, about 15 minutes walk from our hotel. Initially we were trying to figure out which direction to walk and then realized that just following the crowd would be much easier as almost everyone on the street with badge and bag was going towards the same direction.

Keynote sessions in HIMSS are always amazing. In the opening keynote this year, Biz Stone, the co-founder of Twitter shared his success and failure stories and his principles. The most inspiring one to take home was -

“We can change the world, build a business and have fun. “

The rest of the day was filled with numerous educational sessions. Shortly after lunch, the exhibition halls were open for attendees. Attending those presentations from the big names in the industry, getting updates on upcoming trends in technology, disruptive and innovative approaches from the new entrants is always a treat.

Day two was all sessions and exhibit hall hours. One of the morning session I attended was on ICD-10 conversion. This informative session covered some of the tools and resources CMS and HIMSS have developed. Another thought provoking session was on Watson, a software and hardware platform by IBM, equipped with massive memory and computing power, built for natural language processing (NLP). The session covered how Watson is being used in Healthcare Technology where NLP has tremendous applicability.

Day three keynote was presented by Farzad Mostashari, National Coordinator for Health Information Technolgy. He emphasized on “… making meaningful use of meaningful use” as pivotal for providers to meet the upcoming challanges. He shared a very inspiring vision when he said, “By next year, I predict that the majority of care delivered in this country will be done on EHRs, not paper,”

The last day didn’t have exhibit hours but it did have two keynote sessions. The first one was addressed by Democratic political strategist Donna Brazile and former White House press secretary Dana Perino. It was supposed to be a political debate but eventually turned out to be more of an informative one with some nice hints of humor.

Dan Buettner showing a picture of Sardenians

The last and the best one was by Dan Buettner, the founder of Blue Zones. He talked about three different Blue Zones, regions on earth with the longest life expectancy and shared the simple but meaningful life style there. In Okinawa, Japan, one of the Blue Zones, he asked a 104 year old lady about what it was like holding her great-great-great grand child and her response was, “It’s like leaping into the heaven”.

The conference was over by 5 pm everyday and for the rest of the evening, we made sure to visit all the big hotels and casinos on the strip. It was absolute fun watching the night life in Vegas, the magnificent sculptures, architectures and of course, the food.


A glimpse of the Colorado River

We also had a day off on Monday as the conference was gonna start from Tuesday and we made a plan in hurry and made it to the GRAND CANYON!

Grand Canyon

I don’t have words to describe what a magnificent piece of nature it is. So, I won’t even try.

Tahseen, Pushpita, Naim, Nazrul and Sazzad (behind the camera) @ Grand Canyon

For now, I am done here in Vegas and preparing for tomorrow in Bismarck, North Dakota!
Sazzad Rafique

What an amazing conference!

The four day long HIMSS10 conference ended yesterday. Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger gave the closing keynote address. He pointed out how aviation culture fosters safety and lessons health sector can take from that. Evidence based checklists for emergency situation has been there for so long in aviation sector but in practice of medicine its often absent which increase the risk. Captain Sully also emphasized that its not just checklist but the teamwork, process and attitude combined with years of disciplined practice come into play in an emergency situation. As he said – nothing can be more costly than not having the culture of safety, I can completely relate to that when I think of our rigorous process of software development and testing to ensure the safety and security of data we deal with through our applications.

Captain Sully

Captain Sully

Earlier Thursday morning, there was another informative keynote session where Sanjay Gupta interviewed Harry Markopolis about Medicare Fraud. He discussed how using Electronic Health Record (EHR) can reduce the risk and help identifying fraud.

Sanjay Gupta & Harry Markopolis

Sanjay Gupta & Harry Markopolis

Apart from the keynote sessions there were numerous educational sessions on EHR, PHR, Interoperability, Meaningful Use, Privacy and Security, Health Information Exchange, NHIN etc. by industry leaders, thinkers and policy makers. As a whole, it was a very satisfying experience as we found how our strategic goals well aligned with industry trends and demands.



Post conference thoughts

We are back in New York after the completion of an amazingly exciting conference. During the last three days, as we ran more than a hundred sessions, numerous suggestions, feedback, comments, ideas came up which will significantly help us in terms of developing next batch of modules and enhancements. Thanks to all our attendees who participated with us in making it a success. We discussed in detail regarding some really major ideas like standard based interfacing with external systems / interoperability, Health Information Exchange, cross organization information sharing, simplification of access control etc. We are not surprised that our users in most cases equally identified how important each of these areas are. This sharing of knowledge between both the parties in such a mass level makes the PA conference a very significant one to look forward to every year.

While we will be heading back to Dhaka during this weekend, Tahseen and Naim will stay back for another week to visit some providers. We all are going to take back ideas and knowledge to keep us real busy for a while as we will be fleshing out the requirements further and it only gets more exciting as we explore each scenario.

Day 1 @ eHealth Initiative's Annual Conference

We came here in Washington, DC last afternoon to attend the eHI annual conference. The conference started today with welcoming remarks by Rachel Block, Deputy Commissioner for Health IT, New York State Department of Health and Jennifer Covich Bordenick , CEO, eHI. The opening keynote address was presented by Aneesh Chopra, CTO of the United States. He briefly covered several interesting topics including “meaningful use” and the power of information technology in health sector. About health information technology I found his comments very exciting as he envisions 2010 as the year of implementation and result when we will be seeing more products and services as well as protocols and standards getting developed as the nation moves forward achieving the meaningful use. He pointed out that by liberating data and utilizing it, great things can be achieved. This quite matches with what we do in Therap by making data more accessible and thus help providing better care.

After the keynote speech, it was time for the Presentation of 2010 eHealth Initiative Awards. Boston Medical Center (BMC) received the Business Process Improvement Award. BMC’s turnaround time for scheduling appointments has dropped from 33 days to six after implementing an eReferral system. Michael Matthews, CEO, MedVirginia was awarded as the eHealth Advocate of the Year – Private Sector. MedVirginia was the first HIE to utilize CONNECT gateway in its initiative with the Social Security Administration. Tomorrow’s schedule includes day long discussions by policymakers, industry leaders, clinicians and patients covering eHealth issues that affect the entire American health care system. Looking forward for learning a lot.

A deep dive into HL7

We attended several tutorial sessions and work group meetings today. My first session was on Vocabulary. The three and a half hour long session was very compact in terms of all the topics it covered. It started with an overview of terminologies, value sets, concepts and commonly used vocabularies in health care. Vocabulary is said to be the single most important component for interoperability as without standardization of terminologies, comparing health data, aggregating, interchanging data between health systems, secondary usage for research purpose and linking with decision support resources are not possible. For a computer program it is really difficult to aggregate and compare among myocardial infarction, cardiac infarction, heart attack, infarction of heart and myocardial infarct. But when all of these refer to one single Concept ID (e.g. 22298006), it gets pretty straight forward. The later half of the session covered detailed discussion on SNOMED CT, LOINC, UCUM and some other terminologies. Thanks to Ted Klein for conducting such an informative session.

The second session was on HL7 version 2. The main focus of this session was order and observation. It covered the syntax and semantics of different types of order message like general order, clinical order, laboratory order, imaging order, dietary order, pharmacy/treatment order etc.   The sessions was particularly interesting because of having participants from all over the world sharing their interests and challenges for achieving interoperability in health care. I am sure it will get even more fun tomorrow.

Day 2 @ Phoenix

This is our second day at Phoenix. The HL7 Work Group Meeting starts today. We had half a day before the registration and given the bright and sunny morning, we decided to take a short trip some where near by. Masum bhai and Asif, after doing a bit of research, suggested the Desert Botanical Garden. It took us around twenty minutes to get there. We had absolutely no idea that cactus can be so amazingly beautiful. We took a lot of pictures. We also found a humming bird jumping around from one plant to another. If we had time, we probably would have spent the whole day at the garden.

We came back to complete the registration. Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Resort is the venue for this WGM. The resort is pretty cool with all sorts of services and amenities. We took a quick break for lunch at the Hole-In-The-Wall River Ranch restaurant. Then it was time for the introductory sessions on HL7 WGM. There were two sessions scheduled for this after noon. The first one was an informative session for all first time attendees and it covered an over view of HL7 as a standard developing organization and some helpful instructions for next couple of days. The second session was on organization and process orientation. This one discussed work group structure and content domains including formal work group process and protocol for actively participating in the work of the work groups. From tomorrow, we will be attending more specific sessions covering different areas like EHR, PHR, HL7 V3, V2, CCD, CDA and so on. We are very excited to get more in depth understanding of health informatics out of this sessions.

On our way to Phoenix

We reached Los Angeles last afternoon. It was quite a long flight but the transit @Dubai helped. We had few hours to kill before hitting the bed. So, we decided to take a short trip to Santa Monica. We spent few hours walking around the malls at Third Street Promenade, went to the Apple Store, took some pictures and headed back to the hotel. We were tired enough to enjoy a sound sleep, essentially a good way to kill the jet lag.

Our plan for today was basically visiting the Manhattan Beach before heading for the airport. So, we started early as planned. On our way to the beach, our taxi driver suggested visiting the Rodendo beach instead and we thought following him would be the way to go. The beach and the weather both were perfect choice for our short trip. For lunch we had fresh crab and shrimp. We all loved the food. Now its time to head for Phoenix for a busy one week long work group meeting where we will be attending some very good sessions on HL7 and related technologies, processes and best practices.

Looking forward for another exciting trip.


Taking a quick trip to the Parthenon

First day at Therap, CDS Training Conference II went pretty well. Lots of new ideas and suggestions came up. We also had our Wii and XBox gaming sessions at the end of the day. We still had a few hours left before me and Tanm would go back to room. Earlier that day we were wondering if we can make a quick trip to downtown for sight seeing and stuff. And we got Jim from CDS who took us for the quick trip we were looking for. Pretty soon we realized that we should have started earlier just because Nashville downtown is just too cool and few hours just didn’t seem enough. But Jim actually covered a fair enough part of it. The coolest sight was Parthenon a replica of Parthenon in Athens. We couldn’t just resist taking pictures.


Therap, CDS Training Conference II – Day 1, Conference Introduction

Bill From CDS

Another exciting conference begins today. For the next three days we are going to have lots of sessions and discussions. Right now we are having the Conference Introduction session. Getting to know all our attendees and learning about the challenges and opportunities.

Intro Session - Side By Side II

Brain storming and Bowling (without Wii)

We arrived at Connecticut yesterday. This particular part of the trip is for discussions and planning on what we want to achieve in our up coming releases. So, this is the time when we work on prioritizing our ever increasing ‘To-Do’ list. This is real fun when we have the whole team including Warren, Justin, Jim designing all those complicated modules in flip charts. It starts with just few lines and boxes in twelve different colors but as time goes by, it gets really exciting and you can almost visualize the idea working in the real system. I missed some of it as I had to run and join a webinar on MAR. By the time we were done, it looked like quite a productive day. So, it was quite obvious that the next most important thing we need to do was going out for a good dinner. Jim took us to a pretty cool Italian restaurant and we were there until we were completely full.

We still had more fun stuff to do. It was time for trying out real bowling. I just had my first bowling experience in Wii last week while at the Kansas conference. I figured out that real bowling is indeed far more fun except for the fact that I scored way better in Wii. But I am going to work on that and expecting to break my Wii record.


score card

Tomorrow we will have more exciting discussions before we head back to New York.

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