HIMSS, Part IV: Global Healthcare Leadership

02 Mar HIMSS, Part IV: Global Healthcare Leadership

Globalization (glō’bəl-lā’shən) adj.
  1. The process by which the economies of countries around the world become increasingly integrated over time.
  2. Tendency of businesses to move beyond domestic and national markets to other markets around the globe, thereby increasing the interconnectedness of different markets.

The fat lady has finally sung in New Orleans. The last day of the HIMSS 2007 conference had that “last day of school” feel to it, when it didn’t matter if you really attended anything. With the excitement, exhuberance, and novelty long since worn off, the conference finished up in business-like fashion.

The day started off with Secretary Michael Leavitt giving the morning keynote. We were fortunate to have his son interned with us at Medsphere in 2005 (Hey Taylor – we never pulled off the in person meeting with your dad!). Secretary Leavitt had a very clear message, and made a strong case as to why value-based competition on results within healthcare is so critical. I bought into this hook, line, and sinker as soon as I began reading Michael Porter’s work last fall but I am still surprised to see to what degree it has been adopted by HHS (which spends nearly $1 trillion dollars annually on healthcare and health related services). He was personable and efficient – and I believe our country’s health system is in good hands under his leadership (plus he is a fellow Cougar!)

Secretary Leavitt closed his remarks by highlighting the opportunity for the US to take a leadership role in the global healthcare market by creating a value-driven healthcare system. He made the comparison between the current healthcare “sector” and the potential to create a healthcare “system”. He concluded his thoughts on the inevitable flattening of the world and globalization of healthcare with this call to action to lead out in creating the healthcare future:

You can fight it and fail;

You can accept it and survive; or

You can lead it and prosper.

To this global competitive point, I was pleased to see many new foreign software vendors at the show. Besides the big multi-nationals like Phillips and Seimens, I met a really cool electronic health record company from Portugal called Alert Systems (coolest user interface I have seen), met several folks from England bringing products over the pond, and there were several new international entrants as described by Mr. HIStalk. I also took my Finnish friend Jari Ylonen from MyMedLab on a personal tour of Tulane Medical Center labs (Thanks again, Charles!) and enjoyed lunch with a company from Brazil that is deploying VistA-based solutions.

I definitely left with a strong view of the international reach of healthcare IT, the hope for shared collaboration across geographical and international boundaries, and considered for the first time the implications of a truly global healthcare “system”.

And what a site it will be!


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