What I Learned at My First HIMSS

How can healthcare spur patient data access and control?

Well, my first HIMSS conference is in the books. Leading up to the meeting, which many have called the place to be for all things health-tech, I was extremely nervous. Being in this space for just three months and knowing that I’d meet with experts who have been in the field for years was quite intimidating.

But I survived. And I’m glad to have been surrounded by wonderful people who instantly took me in, showed me the ropes and spent time speaking with me about their passion for health-tech and healthcare.

>> WATCH: How Can Healthcare Protect Patient Data?

As I set up my camera and conducted video interviews throughout the week, I discovered a common theme: Patients want their health data, but healthcare struggles to give it to them. So, what’s the solution — the path toward patient data access and control?

Whether it was a cybersecurity company or one of the many digital health startups, healthcare stakeholders made it clear that the industry focused more on the patient earlier, when it might have been easier to build a solid foundation based on patient data access and ownership.

These companies are trying to establish a solution to a problem that has affected patients and healthcare for years. Had they thought about the importance of data to the patient, perhaps the industry would not be in this boat, failing to arm people with their data in interoperable, user-friendly formats.

Over and over, I heard that patients want to have a say in their treatment — from initial diagnosis to the point of care. Although patient engagement remains a challenge in many cases, it’s encouraging to see that people recognize this and want to find solutions to put the patient first. But which innovations — whether they be led by tech startups, healthcare organizations or government — will make this happen remains unclear.

The second, and probably most important, thing I learned at HIMSS is the power of networking.

I feel like when I step away from my laptop and have a chance to really talk to people, I am at my most genuine self. And when others see that, it becomes easier to have a real conversation.

While a lot of my interviews and conversations with people were field-specific, I found myself reconnecting with those I had spoken with earlier on.

If you put yourself out there, people will recognize it — and appreciate it.

HIMSS 2019 was my first ever business trip. And while I could have let it consume me and take away from the amazing experience that I wound up having, I took advantage of it. I put myself out there and sparked conversations with people.

The best thing was having people who have been in the industry for a long time, take the time to sit with me and speak about their passions and help me navigate my way through this ever-changing space.

Everyone wanted to talk. Everyone wanted their story told. Everyone wanted to speak about health tech and healthcare. And I think that’s the most important takeaway. We have to keep the discussion going.

Reach out to me on Twitter or shoot me an email if you have a story to tell. I’m not looking for fluff or hype. I want to break through the noisy news cycle and surface the insights that can make a real difference.

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