In March 2020 the annual HIMSS conference was one of the first conferences to be canceled because of the emergent COVID-19 pandemic. It’s been a long 17 months for everyone since then, but particularly for healthcare IT teams. Shrinking budgets, remote work challenges, changing patient expectations, and clinician burn-out are all front-line issues that have a strong connection to how healthcare organizations manage their IT infrastructure. In this piece from GovDataDownload NetApp’s Healthcare CIO, Kim Garriott, shares her expectations for this long-awaited HIMSS 2021 conference.
HIMSS 2021 is here and is bringing together experts in healthcare both in-person and digitally to discuss the latest trends and lessons learned in healthcare over the last year. Any healthcare professional would tell you there is a lot to discuss and unpack as far as healthcare technology trends during and following the pandemic, so many are eagerly awaiting the results of these discussions at HIMSS 2021.
One such expert in the space includes Kim Garriott, Chief Innovation Officer, Healthcare at NetApp. Garriott spoke with the GovDataDownload editorial team briefly preceding HIMSS 2021 and shared some of her biggest anticipations for the show.
Going into the event, Garriott predicted that discussions around privacy and security will be very top-of-mind for the healthcare community, especially given the increase in ransomware and cyberattack incidents throughout the pandemic. Data security has long been a priority for the healthcare space, but the recent influx of incidents has resulted in increased vigilance. There are more sessions on this topic than any other at the conference this year. Unsurprisingly, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are both expected to play a large role in the discussions at HIMSS 2021, considering the rapid ongoing modernization of the healthcare space. Garriott concurred that AI and ML will continue to promote innovation through the power of automation and allow healthcare professionals to allocate their expertise in more productive areas.
“Healthcare innovation is being shaped by AI, but we still face a level of adoption hesitancy while at the same time trying to figure out how to pay for it. Through the combination of AI and robotic process automation (RPA), we will automate more ‘back-office functions, and employees can be more productive and focus on more high-value activities,” explained Garriott. “This type of automation usually has a clearer path to ROI and is viewed as less risky, as it doesn’t directly impact patient care. Embracing this type of automation is an important step in establishing a higher level of comfort in adopting in AI in other areas like clinical workflow.”
Garriott also thinks there is a significant discussion to be had around equity in a couple of different senses at HIMSS 2021, specifically around healthcare access and employment equity. “Through the power of data and innovation, we have seen that we are able to provide healthcare to any patient in any location,” she stated. “This same concept can be applied when considering talent recruitment. Experts no longer need to be geographically convenient to bring their expertise to the table, and that can make all the difference for a patient.” Garriott followed up with the point that now this infrastructure is in place for healthcare organizations, it can continue to be built upon to keep these improvements in equity moving forward.
Garriott concluded with three important lessons learned by the healthcare industry throughout the pandemic:
• We are resilient.
• We are fully capable of mobilizing quickly on the technology front.
• We are becoming more serious about how we leverage the cloud in our progress.
“Certainly, cloud technologies allow us to accelerate the development/training of AI models and utilize mountains of untapped data. But, perhaps even more interesting than that, is the impact it will have on software development and deployment. For instance, historically an organization may spend thousands of person-hours and hundreds of thousands of dollars to test and deploy an EMR upgrade. The power of the cloud allows us to develop and deploy upgrades within minutes instead of months. This adoption is not only evolutionary but revolutionary.”
The GovDataDownload team looks forward to connecting with Garriott following this year’s show and sharing key findings in her discussions with fellow healthcare thought leaders.