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Las Vegas held one of the biggest Health IT conferences of the year this month, HIMSS16. The conference was packed full of useful educational sessions, ideas, devices and big announcements. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) had some huge announcements to follow up on the pledge made last year to make interoperability a reality. The ONC announced three challenges to encourage app development to share information in a user friendly manner. The Consumer Health Data Aggregator Challenge, the Provider User-Experience Challenge and a grant opportunity, all aimed at developing tools for users to review their health information from any healthcare provider.

Vendors and providers know that interoperability is possible; other countries are way ahead of us in this area. The challenge is getting the necessary tools, expertise and funding to make it happen. The challenges provided funding as incentive to achieve that goal. Dr. Karen B. DeSalvo, the acting assistant secretary of health, National Coordinator for Health IT at US Department of Health and Human Services had a Q&A session after her presentation to discuss interoperability, among other things. HIMSS covered the challenges in more detail in their post, read it here.

Other key players used the conference to showcase their high tech tools and devices. The shift to provide patient care with a higher standard of safety, transparency and accountability was a key theme throughout the conference. The conference, as usual, focused on where Health IT is going. Accountable Care, Population Health, Interoperability, and Telehealth were very prominent themes throughout the week. One of the more fascinating technologies discussed used artificial intelligence and computing to improve population health; the platform is called cognitive computing. Learn more about how Cognitive computing and population health work together here.

HIMSS16 was an incredible conference full of education, innovation and a look ahead for Healthcare IT. We are excited to be in such an exciting field that can make an impact for patients on a daily basis.