July 24, 2024
Information Technology’s Impact on Tomorrow’s Health

The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Global Health Conference and Exhibition brought together more than 30,000 professionals including public health officials, CIOs, CTOs, informaticists, data scientists and practitioners in Orlando, March 11-15, for the latest in education, with nearly 500 speakers presenting education sessions, as well as plenty of innovation and collaboration, all in keeping with the theme of “Creating Tomorrow’s Health.” More than 1,000 exhibiting companies filled the exhibit hall of the Orange County Convention Center, where they showcased cutting-edge technology, and presented innovative products and services.

Driving Transformational Change Through Sustainability

During the opening keynote session, “Personalizing the Patient Experience: Harnessing the Power of AI to Drive Real Transformational Change,” the session discussed how, due to an increased demand to reduce administrative burdens, increasing operational efficiencies and leverage data to deliver better patient care, healthcare organizations are adopting technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and advanced analytics capabilities so that clinical staff can focus more on care delivery. Brought home was the point that it is critical in today’s healthcare environment for leadership to identify ways to deliver value that improves their overall decision-making approach while personalizing the patient’s experience. By doing so, organizations can realize a competitive advantage needed to drive true transformational change.

“If you don’t like change, you’re not going to like health and healthcare,” said HIMSS President and CEO Hal Wolf, FHIMSS. “This is not the place to sit if you don’t enjoy an environment of improvement, and an opportunity to recognize that digital health continues to progress, and that each and every one you have an incredibly important talent. But the question that keeps driving all of us a little bit is our speed of adoption, and where it needs to be.”

Wolf stressed that across the ecosystem, populations are going to continue to age. And there’s no question that we have staff shortages that are impacting each and every system globally, yet funding levels are going to stay where they are at. “So we know that our workforces need a different route. We know that business as usual just isn’t possible. There are too many patients, too many needs, and frankly, not enough clinicians. That’s our horizon,” he said. “We’ve been through the numbers, we’ve seen it all. And there isn’t a single healthcare system that isn’t going to struggle on a daily basis to support and operate what it needs. We have a fundamental threat to the sustainability of large systems across the globe.

“And there it is — here is the new word that has now crept into our lexicon, directly and boldly and appropriately, which is sustainability. We need to break this down, because we actually use this word in three different ways: sustainability and practice; sustainability and delivery systems; and sustainability of the environment,” Wolf continued, adding that 20 years ago, talk was about the sustainability of the practice of primary care, chat functionality was new, as was text messaging. There was concern about the sustainability of primary care enabling this influx of new communication challenges.

Information Technology’s Impact on Tomorrow’s Health

Hal Wolf, HIMSS President and CEO

 

Sustainability and Practice. “At the time, physician leaders were wondering, ‘How do we convince people that what we’re gaining and what we’re trying to get to is sustainability of a practice? Where was the inspiration? Where was the innovation, are where are we going to take it?’ And this wasn’t just a primary care situation. It had to be across the board,” stressed Wolf. “We hadn’t recognized that we were getting into a new world that needed to be brought forward. And those challenges, they’re still here. We still have to embrace the new tools and new capabilities, and the fundamentals of multiple disciplines, where we’re putting pressure on each and every one of our scope of practices and the demand that it creates.”

Sustainability and Delivery Systems. In turning to the sustainability of large systems, Wolf stressed that many of the largest institutions cannot seem to find a clear strategic path forward in the current circumstances to change the care model to be able to meet the needs of their populations. “And if they stumble, what happens to those populations from a care standpoint?” he asked. “So with this gap, we turn to digital power, we look not only in the systems themselves, and recognizing the increasing demand, but also on the outside in. And we start to think about this technology and recognizing that it’s going to be bringing into healthcare from the home information that we didn’t have before as we begin to shift. And as we use the technology, and we recognize the chances of using rings and other devices, what we must be able to do now is to recognize a new triaged, hierarchical approach that begins to reshape our scope of practices, and the change of the common practice within multiple disciplines. In effect, outside in is a critical path to system sustainability.”

Sustainability of the Environment. Finally, comes sustainability of the environment. Wolf says this is a critical component in regard to carbon emissions. “We recognize that fundamentally 8.5% of carbon emissions in the United States are generated by the health industry, 5.2%, globally, so we have an opportunity and a critical responsibility,” he said. “Currently, it is being incentivized, and on a volunteer basis, but it’s here. In the end, all three must be brought together to create sustainability, across everything we do. The traditional medical model, the health model, our patients, from the outside in. We have to live first and foremost to sustain our enterprises and our systems of care. And those systems, as we redesign, have a fundamental responsibility to take the demands of our population into account, and then to build new infrastructures which are going to focus on the sustainability from an environmental standpoint once we meet our practices and our institutions from a go-forward basis. This is the critical challenge from a strategic standpoint, that is hitting across the globe.”

The Three Variables for New Technology

It is necessary for the industry today to weave in new technologies that are just on the brink and are coming in at a very fast onslaught — such as artificial intelligence. “We have a tendency to paint AI with just a single brush, and it’s not,” explained Wolf. “It’s not because there are no silver bullets. First of all, in terms of anything that we’re going to do, any technology is going to solve all our problems. It simply won’t happen. technology alone doesn’t do anything. It’s people, process, technology. All three have to come together. Because if we can’t figure out the right way to integrate AI, it is going to make a difference, but it’s not going to matter.”

Wolf broke this down into three variables: the first, small devices and outputs; second, operational applications to manage and improve throughput; and third, the higher-level applications that start to use and get into the components of clinical decisions.

Small devices, such as SmartWatches and SmartRings are propagating and improving in terms of sensitivity and capability, “But it’s a microcosm,” he said. “It starts to give me as an individual a look at who I am and my activities, and how my health is performing. When I can bring them together into a group, you start to see a population health coming together.”

The second variable it is getting into machine learning in the AI applications that are being developed and delivered across our capabilities for the delivery of better outcomes in hospitals and systems.

And finally comes clinical decision support. “It’s within that domain of the clinical decision support that we’re going to have to be very careful of the calculations and the assumptions and the biases. We cannot put them all under one bucket, or we’re going to smother ourselves too quickly before all the capabilities that we need are brought forward,” Wolf stressed, and recommended that over the course of the conference for attendees to listen carefully to the conversations that are taking place in the hallways — as there are people all around that have been implementing and putting together new technologies that are both on the horizon and being executed today.

“This is the beauty of HIMSS. This is why you’re here,” he said. “It’s the conversations in the hallways, it’s the presentations, it’s the educational sessions, and from it we are beginning to recognize that this critical year of 2024 is going to be driving us forward from a demand standpoint, because people want to self-heal, physicians and our staff want to get rid of a small tasks that they can pushed off to new capabilities, so that we can maximize our accountability and to deliver the best care possible.”

Watch the VIDEO: One on One with Hal Wolf, FHIMSS, HIMSS President and CEO

Emerging Trends in Information Technology

Key themes at this year’s conference centered around artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, robotics, interoperability, policy, coaching for victory and other global health topics facing healthcare today. Here is a recap of how some of the top exhibitors in the imaging technology space addressed these trends at HIMSS24. 

HIMSS 2024

Remote Scanning Technology

Siemens Healthineers discussed the recent Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) clearance of syngo Virtual Cockpit, its private, secure communication platform for real-time image visualization, acquisition and collaboration between healthcare professionals across multiple sites, during HIMSS24. The software enables users to connect to computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), positron emission tomography (PET), single-photon emission CT (SPECT), PET/CT, SPECT/CT and PET/MRI scanners from Siemens Healthineers and other equipment vendors, regardless of location.

Peter Shen, head of digital and automation at Siemens Healthineers North America, explained that radiologic technologists can use the live audio, video and chat functionalities to conduct scans or provide support for up to three different remote scanners simultaneously, which also helps to address the ongoing technologist shortage as well as standardize care and achieve diagnostic consistency across the health system.

Shen shared that at HIMSS24, one frequent topic of conversation he was hearing focused around data, and how the next generation of data is being handled. “We believe that we are starting to see an emerging need for a platform that really is now taking all of the clinical information that today resides in siloed databases and systems that are out there, and creating a platform that is de-siloing all of the clinical data about the patient, and finding a way to make that data accessible for the patient,” he said. “It is ensuring that we can take data, whether it’s imaging data, patient history, information, genomic information about the patient, and being able to bring that all together into a singular kind of platform, singular database, open database. The reason why we want it open is so we can enhance that data and put it into proper context. Then by doing this, you have the ability to then overlay all that information with new and emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, that can take advantage of all this clinical information and create something that’s actionable for the physician.”

Shen said the platform created for this, Syngo Carbon, helps achieve the concepts of de-siloing the data and make sure it is open and able to communicate with other systems. 

Digital Pathology Technology

Fujifilm Healthcare Americas Corporation recently entered into an agreement to digitize the pathology departments of three healthcare organizations: the University Health Network (UHN), UVA Health and Boston Children’s Hospital, using its Synapse Pathology comprehensive pathology PACS solution that streamlines case management through proprietary advances in image digitization to accelerate case turnaround time. It uses whole slide images from multiple scanning vendors to create a comprehensive solution for digital pathology across laboratories, allowing healthcare organizations to realize the benefits of workflow efficiencies, centralized imaging records and enterprise-wide access to images for all clinicians. 

“Anatomic pathology completes 350 million tests in the US annually alone, including critical diagnoses like cancer. Yet, despite massive volumes of critical patient work, pathologists have used the same tools for decades: microscopes and glass slides,” said Mark Lloyd, PhD, vice president, pathology, Fujifilm Healthcare Americas Corporation, in a written statement. “We’re on a mission to disrupt the current cancer diagnostic practice by making digital pathology the norm, and we’re gratified to collaborate with the following healthcare organizations to support precision cancer diagnostics for their patients and pathologists.”

William Lacy, senior vice president, medical informatics at Fujifilm, talked about the company’s recent acquisitions that brought pathology into the business. “We are looking at how pathology could benefit from the things that we are doing in the VNA and in the cloud. The biggest part of pathology is managing very large datasets, so there are opportunities there for new storage and compression capabilities,” he explained. “Even utilizing the cloud for digital pathology would be a big step forward. We are looking at a lot of changes in pathology to help make it more accessible and increase the adoption that we’re seeing from the pathology room.

“It’s really the next big imaging area, because it hasn’t been converted to digital,” Lacy continued, mentioning that the interest seen at HIMSS24 in this area was exploding. “It can’t be fully converted to digital because we don’t have that technology critical to convert slides yet. But the image management side of it and getting rid of the physical archive of slides, I think all that’s going to rapidly get adopted.”

Watch the VIDEO: Talking Trends with Fujifilm: Transforming the Diagnostic Experience

Simplified Workstations

Demonstrating how advanced display solutions improve staff and patient experiences throughout modern healthcare facilities, LG Business Solutions showcased its range of turnkey technologies at HIMSS 2024. The power and multi-user capabilities of its new 24-inch (23.8-inch diagonal) All-in-One Thin Client (model 24CR661) clinical display was highlighted on the expo floor. It offers hospitals a powerful, secure shared computing solution with a 1,920 x 1,080 LG IPS panel, an integrated FHD webcam and instant login enabled through a dual-band RFID reader at the base of the screen. Use cases and simplicity are expanded through the inclusion of integrated speakers and a microphone. The thin client is available in six variants offering either an Intel Pentium or Celeron processor and choice of Windows 10 IoT, IGEL OS Stratodesk NonTouch OS or no OS, each with a unique SKU.

Jim Salamon, senior account manager, explained the significance of this clinical display. “The biggest challenge that radiologists have is not having two workstations to do one thing, or they have to move from one to another to work or multitask,” he said. “So, challenges radiologists have is workspace and getting too much of it. They don’t want to hop from workstation to workstation, they really want to stay in one spot.”

Watch the archived WEBINAR: Advanced Diagnostic Technology for Accurate Imaging

Emphasis on Cloud Storage

At HIMSS24, Infinitt debuted a range of new products, along with enhancements to existing offerings. The new Healthcare Cloud Appliance provides the benefits of the company’s software and platform with the power of a local system and takes up little space. According to the company, this device is dependable and easy to set up like any other household appliance. The Cloud Appliance offers fast performance, an all-flash storage system with no spinning disks, and the flexibility to increase storage easily from 300 TB to 4PB. Plus, it complements INFINITT’s existing cloud services, which include public, private and hybrid options.

Cloud Adoption

Visage Imaging showcased a series of new product additions and innovations, as well as its Visage 7 Enterprise Imaging Platform, engineered for CloudPACS, at HIMSS24. Visage 7 CloudPACS delivers sub-second image display based on industry standards and multi-cloud support, while propelling cloud adoption at a fraction of the storage cost of on-premise solutions.

HIMSS show floor

Cybersecurity

Canon offers a multi-layered cybersecurity approach for maximum protection. Its core focal points include Incident Response; Malicious Actors; Industry Standards; and Securities Advisories. These rigorous risk assessment procedures and proactive threat monitoring is designed to help maximize our customer’s cyber safety.

Canon Medical Systems offers two cybersecurity protection platforms to mitigation against new threats. Standard and Premium cybersecurity coverage options use a deny-all firewall configuration to block malicious actors and malware attempting to infiltrate Canon’s imaging equipment.

Canon Medical’s imaging devices are designed and developed with National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) RMF and Defense Health Agency (DHA) certification in mind. Our systems are manufactured with an inherent ability to deter and prevent unauthorized access and malware. Canon’s technology continually observes and monitors, to ensure all devices connected to your system are current on their latest threat resolution mechanism.

“Cybersecurity something to take note of, and I think we approach it differently,” said Tim Dawson, chief technology officer for Canon Medical Informatics. “The one thing that I that I like to focus on at a very high level, is that your vendor systems don’t provide security for you, they need to look into your cybersecurity, and they need to enable the best of breed sort of capabilities within your cybersecurity and within your system. That comes from using the right protocols, the right kind of storage, and making sure that can be secured using a zero-trust architecture. That is kind of the key thing that I say the system needs to be architected from the ground up to plan for this sort of thing.

“With zero-trust architectures, pretend that you don’t have a firewall,” he continued. “Because the phrase ‘the barbarians are already inside the gates’ always comes to mind. If you think that your firewall is protecting you, it’s not. It could be anything from a disgruntled employee to somebody getting bribed or blackmailed to get through to somebody clicking on the wrong link on an email. It’s just that simple.”

Healthcare Collaborations

Philips and Amazon Web Services. Philips announced an expanded collaboration with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to address the growing need for secure, scalable digital pathology solutions in the cloud during HIMSS24. The collaboration unites Philips’ leadership and expertise in digitization of pathology to optimize clinical workflows and AWS’ leadership in scalable, secure cloud solutions. Together, the companies will advance digital pathology, helping pathology labs efficiently store, manage and analyze growing volumes of digital pathology data and enable more pathology labs to adopt digital workflows and increase productivity. Pathology labs will be able to optimize workflow efficiency and facilitate collaboration among specialists, enabling seamless integration with existing healthcare systems to deliver holistic patient care.

“By harnessing the power of the cloud to accelerate the digitization of pathology, we are improving the quality of patient care by enabling greater workflow efficiency and collaboration at scale,” said Shez Partovi, Chief Innovation and Strategy Officer and Chief Business Leader Enterprise Informatics at Philips in a written statement. “As the demand for pathology-based diagnosis continues to increase, we see digital pathology in the cloud as a critical enabler for productivity, scale and to further transform healthcare diagnostics by opening new avenues for research, education, and the integration of AI to further improve patient care.”

Konica Minolta and AWS HealthImaging. At HIMSS24, Konica Minolta Healthcare Americas announced a new platform integration with AWS HealthImaging (AHI) and its Exa Platform. The platform is an enterprise imaging, PACS, RIS and billing solution offering advanced features such as server-side rendering, diagnostic zero-footprint viewer and a single, integrated database across all modules. Working with AHI services will allow Konica Minolta to focus on delivering production workflow software for imaging customers with AHI managing the infrastructure, and customers will benefit from the expanded depth of a comprehensive solution. In addition, customers can be more flexible, agile and scalable as they efficiently deploy and manage software.

“Konica Minolta is thrilled to announce the integration of the Exa Platform with AWS HealthImaging in the cloud,” said Kevin Chlopecki, Chief Operating Officer, Konica Minolta Healthcare. “By moving production workflow to the cloud using AWS HealthImaging, clinicians have better, faster access to all their imaging data and applications from virtually anywhere they are located. We see the future where vendors manage production workflow applications with healthcare providers using their data to suit their business needs.”

Chlopecki went out to say that the company is hyper-focused on this concept. “We are working with AWS to create a new vision. AWS HealthImaging is a massive idea, built by the brightest minds in health imaging to create an environment for image storage that is that is leading-edge,” he explained. “They are working with us to devise new storage techniques, and on the best compression technologies and the best ownership technologies, so that customers, when they own their data, they actually own it.”

From a vendor perspective, companies no longer feel the need to build everything themselves. I think what we’re seeing is a change in the collaborative effort between vendors,” Chlopecki explained. “I would say it happens in any industry, that at some point industry leaders say, ‘We can’t do everything perfectly. Let’s align strategic objectives with the people who are doing it best.’ Which is why we think that, from our perspective, we’re heavily aligned with HealthImaging. We think that they’re an industry leader in what they do, and that their product integrates very well with our product.”

Read the BLOG: SaaS Provides Agility, Flexibility and Scalability

RamSoft’s integration into Microsoft Azure. Recently, RamSoft launched Progressive Loading, which is a unique feature of OmegaAI, RamSoft’s cloud-native radiological software built on Microsoft Azure, that allows a radiologist to quickly load a large imaging study via a web browser. A radiologist can begin to read and interact with new studies with no delay; the first images load almost immediately and secondary images load progressively in the background while the radiologist interacts with the study. Because the platform is cloud-native, image loading is fast regardless of what type of the network being used, and the performance is reportedly faster than traditional cloud-based deployments and most on-premises networks.

“Medical imaging plays a vital role in healthcare. The ability to deliver large radiology images quickly and efficiently is not merely a matter of convenience but a critical necessity. It can help reduce workload burdens and enable radiologists to expedite analysis, diagnosis, and treatment, thereby helping to enhance patient care and outcomes with precision and efficacy,” said Helia Mohammadi, PhD, Chief AI and Precision Health Officer, Microsoft, in a written statement. “RamSoft’s integration of Microsoft Azure to accelerate healthcare innovation is a great example of how technology can be leveraged to improve provider and patient experiences.”

GE Virtual Care-at-Home with Biofourmis: At HIMSS24, GE HealthCare and Biofourmis announced their strategic collaboration which is aimed at enhancing continuity of care by enabling safe, effective and accessible care in the home to support the patient journey beyond the hospital setting. The collaboration leverages the combined expertise of both companies to scale and deliver innovative care-at-home solutions. The goal of the collaboration, according to a written statement, is to enable more patients to go home earlier, and offer an alternative to facility-based care with the comfort and peace of mind that they are receiving high quality care at home with the intent of driving healthy behaviors in patients by managing them remotely.

“Biofourmis’ demonstrated success with care-at-home solutions will extend GE HealthCare’s current inpatient monitoring portfolio to support patient care from the hospital to home,” said Ashutosh Banerjee, GE HealthCare, in that statement. “Combining our companies’ demonstrated capabilities will help revolutionize the way we approach the patient care journey as well as help address current challenges faced by health systems including hospital capacity issues and clinical staffing shortages.”

In addition, GE HealthCare also announced its plan with Mass General Brigham to integrate medical imaging foundation models into its AI research work, with a strong focus on responsible AI practices. Both organizations have been working closely on AI solutions since announcing their 10-year commitment in 2017 to explore the use of AI across a broad range of diagnostic and treatment paradigms through sustainable AI development.

“GE HealthCare and Mass General Brigham have a long-standing AI collaboration that has produced AI-powered tools which help increase operational effectiveness and productivity. Now, with adding foundation models to our research work, we will be able to take the next step of digital and AI transformation to develop technology innovations that provide better patient care and outcomes,” said Parminder Bhatia, Chief AI Officer, GE HealthCare, in a written statement. “Incorporating responsible AI practices into this phase, we are committed to ensuring these innovations adhere to guidelines, prioritize patient safety and privacy, and promote fairness and transparency across all applications.”

The Next Chapter of Healthcare Imaging

It is obvious that AI, somehow, will play a major role in the development of healthcare information technology. Upcoming conferences such as the Society for Imaging Informatics in Medicine’s (SIIM) annual meeting in June, and HIMSS25 in Las Vegas next March, as well as interviews with key technology leaders on the pages of Imaging Technology News (ITN), will help you keep your finger on the pulse of this rapidly growing industry.

View ITN’s complete Calendar of Upcoming Events

Related content:

Find more HIMSS24 conference coverage here

VIDEO: One on One with Hal Wolf, FHIMSS, HIMSS President and CEO

One on One … with Hal Wolf, FHIMSS

HIMSS Launches Modernized Infrastructure Adoption Model to Support Global Digital Health Transformation

Top Public Policy Experts at HIMSS24 to Address Global AI Landscape and Digital Transformation in Healthcare

VIDEO: Using Maturity Models to Measure Digital Health

VIDEO: Moving Digital Transformation Forward in Healthcare

VIDEO: Key Components to Creating and Implementing AI and Digital Transformation Solutions

VIDEO: The Benefits and Pitfalls of Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare

VIDEO: A Look at Cybersecurity and How Healthcare is at Risk

Leave a Reply