TN HIMSS Summit of the Southeast Report Out

The TN HIMSS Summit of the Southeast was held this week in Nashville, TN. If you are not familiar with this event it occurs annually in Nashville, TN and brings together organizations and ideas from all across the United States. Topics covered in this years summit included population health management, disruption, patient engagement, big data, and others. The main theme for this year's conference was engagement, and this is a great as it means we are moving in the right direction for improving health care in the US.

Kent Bottles, MD presented a session entitled Population Health Management, which focused heavily on the patient needing to be the "true north" in every healthcare situation in order to improve the current state of the health system. This aligns well with moving from a healthcare system that focuses on the sick patient to one that focuses on the well patient. This concept is certainly one we are all familiar with by now, yet somehow we as an industry are not moving toward that quickly enough. More specifically this means keeping healthcare facilities empty rather than full should be the goal but this directly contradicts the underlying business models of most, if not all of such facilities. While there are no concrete solutions at this point many are being tried, one such example being having a weekly farmers' market in a hospital offering fruits and vegetables to promote healthy eating. While the fiscal numbers may not entirely balance out with this idea it is a start to begin thinking differently about healthcare facilities as being "well" centers rather than "sick" centers.

There was a session entitled Personalized Medicine, by Paul Rein, COO and CFO of Sarah Cannon Research Institute, most of which I missed, but the gist I got from it was that personalized medicine can and is happening, but it is often times challenging and cost prohibitive to successfully implement. One big factor in this is the engagement of the patient in the process.

Another interesting session I attended was Disruption | Healthcare's New Business Models by Michael Burcham, President and CEO of Nashville Entrepreneur Center. The focus of this presentation was that we need to start thinking about the business strategy differently than we have in the past. One concept that stuck out to me was ensuring the right culture is present in an organization in order that the organization's mission, vision and values can be achieved. If the right culture does not exist then it needs to be changed, and while difficult it is definitely doable if the leadership thinks outside of the box.

We were very privileged to hear Dave "e-Patient Dave" de Bronkart speak as well! He talked on patient engagement, of course. He told his health story, explaining how through being involved in his care, a bit of good fortune, good doctors, and good medicine he was healed of his stage IV kidney cancer. Although there is not a clear map or set of instructions to guide each of us as individuals through our own health stories, we must begin by asking questions and becoming engaged, and we must do this whether we are healthy or sick! The greatest tool to impact change in our health system lies within ourselves, we just need to be intentional and get engaged. Dave accidentally fell into celebrity status from a Boston Globe story on a blog post of his covering the many issues with importing his medical data into Google Health (read more here:

The last session I attended was one covering Game-ification by Raj Ramachandran. The gaming industry is collecting one terabyte of data per day! While the majority of the gaming demographic is under 50 years old, there are older gamers as well. Gaming is a form of entertainment, it's fun. By combining with health IT patients can get excited about improving their health. As time marches on the number of gamers is likely to increase, and so the opportunity to positively impact health is strong. Raj also discussed some of the approaches used by companies when developing games such as "reach" (bringing on new gamers) and "retention" (keeping existing gamers).

The major theme at the summit this year was engagement, on both the patient and community levels. We have to break down the walls between patients and providers, allowing more frequent and meaningful communication, providing opportunities for patient's to have access to their data in a digestible format. We have to do this on a community level as well, by providing opportunities for patients to be engaged in a less direct fashion, as we know that not all patients will be activists, so we need to meet them where they are.