HIMSS 2018: Healthcare sector companies showcase exciting new tech

Image: NEC Corporation of America.
Ingrid Fadelli

Deep learning algorithms, voicetech assistants, and collaboration platforms are among the highlights of the HIMSS conference

The HIMSS (Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society) annual conference and exhibition is running from March 5 to March 9 at the Venetian Palazzo, Sands Expo Center, in Las Vegas.

HIMSS styles itself as the number one healthcare IT conference in the United States, bringing together more than 45,000 health and IT professionals from around the globe, as well as over 1,300 International companies.

The event a chance for tech companies and developers to showcase their latest solutions for the healthcare sector, while also networking with others operating in the field.

Organized by HIMSS, a Chicago-based non-profit organization and a prominent voice in health transformation through IT, the conference features keynote presentations by renowned industry leaders, product announcements, and learning opportunities.

This year, participating companies and developers presented a wide array of interesting technologies for healthcare settings, many of which operate using the latest machine learning strategies.

From collaboration tools to voice-assistants and deep learning algorithms, the event showcased some of the most advanced healthcare technologies out there, hinting to an approaching future marked by huge technological innovation.

Zebra Medical Vision, Orbita, Pieces Technologies, NTT DATA Services, Healthix, InterSystems, and Vaporstream are some of the many participating vendors that presented innovative healthcare solutions.

Clique reports on some of the interesting products and useful IT platforms showcased at HIMSS18.

“Hello voice assistants, and welcome to healthcare”

Voice assistants have become increasingly popular in recent years, making their way into thousands of households in the US and worldwide. But smart helpers are arriving to professional settings as well, with the potential of speeding up the workflow in a variety of fields.

This year’s HIMSS conference was a chance for many tech companies to present voice-enabled technology for healthcare settings.

One example of this is Orbita, a specialist in voicetech solutions, that announced major enhancements to its platform for the creation of healthcare applications for Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and other voice-enabled tools.

The Orbita Voice updates announced at HIMSS build on the omnichannel capabilities of the platform, offering new web and mobile app templates to assist in the development of healthcare-specific skills for voice assistants, as well as new analytics tools to measure user engagement with voice assistants or chat bots.

The company’s new releases also include integrated search features and templates to make healthcare data more accessible via voice apps and security updates that may encourage the use of voice-enabled tools to complete tasks that require handling sensitive user data.

Deep learning healthcare solutions

AI-based and machine learning solutions were among the highlights of this year’s HIMSS event.

Zebra Medical Vision, a company developing AI-tools for radiologists, unveiled its latest algorithm for its Deep Learning Imaging Analytics platform.

The deep learning algorithm was trained to effectively detect intracranial hemorrhages, or brain bleeds, by analyzing patients’ brain imaging scans.

Past research suggests that nearly 6 million people each year die of brain bleed-related conditions and that anywhere between 12-51% these instances tend to be undetected.

Zebra Medical’s algorithm could hence make a huge difference in healthcare settings, helping physicians to identify brain bleeds and potentially saving patients’ lives.

The new algorithm presented in Las Vegas is part of the company’s “All-In-One” business model, along with other AI tools that can detect low bone mineral density, vertebral fractures, fatty liver, emphysema, and other medical conditions.

In an interview with Healthcare IT News, Dr. Mike Phillips, chief of clinical outreach services at Zebra Medical’s client Intermountain Healthcare, said: “This new algorithm is an important addition to Zebra’s Analytics Engine. The ability to alert radiologists and surgeons to the presence of brain bleeds is critical and will bring significant benefits in patient care to healthcare organizations.”

Another AI-based technology announced at HIMSS18 was born from a collaboration between clinical AI company Pieces Technologies and NTT DATA Services, a global technology services provider.

The two companies are jointly developing a solution that could reduce unnecessary readmissions and hospitalizations.

The system combines Pieces Technologies’ Decision Sciences platform with NTT Data’s clinical transformation services, producing a comprehensive risk score that considers patients’ medical and physical attributes as well as social determinants of health.

This risk score would be achieved analyzing real-time patient data and would be produced within 24 hours of a patient’s hospitalization, allowing the care team to intervene appropriately to reduce the risk of future readmissions.

Technology-driven collaboration

Another hot topic at HIMSS18 were innovative collaboration platforms for healthcare professionals.

Healthix, a New York-based health information exchange specialist, launched a system built on InterSystems’ HealthShare platform that could almost double the amount of alerts that doctors receive about their patients’ care status.

The company said that in the past year it generated more than 7.3 million alerts for more than 180 organizations, adding more than 16 million patients to its system. Yet almost 6.5 million alerts could not reach health providers without patients’ consent, which sometimes delayed their care and treatment.

Healthix has therefore developed a new notification system called Essential Alerts, designed to send timely alerts to clinicians on their patients’ care status, in a way that conforms to the state of New York’s strict privacy policies.

Vaporstream, a company developing messaging services, unveiled the addition of automated healthcare workflows for its HIPAA-compliant and secure communications platform.

Vaporstream’s messaging service automates routine communications such as appointment reminders and provides secure messaging for exchange of sensitive patient information, for instance pre- and post- surgical data or details about patients’ care, medications, and procedures.

Galina Datskovsky, CEO of Vaporstream told Healthcare IT News:

“Although many healthcare organizations have incorporated secure messaging capabilities to streamline clinical communications, there are still many providers that waste valuable time using antiquated patient contact methods for routine reminders and engagement processes.

Our workflow solutions streamline these tasks, allowing healthcare providers to focus their time on what’s important- providing excellent patient care.”

The workflows update announced at HIMSS18 allows healthcare establishments to automate and secure communications involving specific patient populations, for instance those affected by heart disease, cancer, obesity, or other chronic conditions.

The evolution of healthcare

Technological advancement keeps on accelerating and several fields are already being transformed by a wave of technology-driven innovation.

The healthcare sector is likely to be one of the most affected by this transformation as, in medical settings, new technology may sometimes make a real ‘life-or-death’ difference for patients.

Around half a decade ago, the introduction of machine learning strategies has opened up further possibilities for the field of AI, enabling faster analyses of all kinds of data, including medical images or patient information.

This year’s HIMSS conference shed light on many technological solutions developed specifically for healthcare settings, ranging from collaboration platforms to voicetech and deep learning algorithms.

These technologies could greatly simplify the work of physicians, reducing the time they spend on basic day-to-day tasks, helping them to identify severe medical issues that may otherwise go unnoticed, and improving the overall quality of patient care.

HIMSS18 has given further proof of just how much and how quickly today’s world is changing, unveiling technologies that could become essentials of tomorrow’s healthcare system.

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