Breaking Down Silos & Walls in the Developer Innovation Lab at HIMSS18 Global Conference & Exhibition

HIMSS18 was full of optimism and energy around innovation, particularly with respect to the potential of using open source frameworks, standards, application programming interfaces (APIs) and tools to create a better experience for patients and a richer environment for population health.

Day one was standing room only at the inaugural Developer Innovation Lab sponsored by Google Cloud when Aneesh Chopra, president, CareJourney; Aashima Gupta, global head – healthcare solutions, Google Cloud Platform; and Adam Culbertson, HIMSS innovator in residence kicked off the sessions. The lab sessions included three days of exchanging ideas and innovations in an intimate setting where developers were able to interact directly with leading innovators in the industry.

The pent up demand for access to education from thought leaders and experts around open APIs, cloud applications, SMART™ and Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) was clear when crowds quickly overflowed out of the Developer Innovation Lab and poured into the Innovation Live area at HIMSS18.

The Google Cloud team, led by Aashima Gupta, collaborated by providing rich educational content showcasing the progress towards making information more universally accessible and useful through the new Google Cloud Healthcare API which addresses significant interoperability challenges in health data.

Aneesh Chopra moderated several sessions including one on API gateways which will play a role in advancing interoperability. 

This type of innovation, combined with the brightest people, the best organizations and emerging leadership, bodes well for the future.

For example, Jennifer Schaff, data scientist at Elder Research, Inc., described her team’s work in creating an analytical approach using open source tools that generated 4 million possible analytical models to test. Rather than give up in despair, they were able to access cloud computing resources and processed 4 million models in 24 hours at the total cost of $44. Her talk highlighted the specific types of algorithms that she used to develop this application along with some sample code developers could look at to get started hacking healthcare on their own.

Flo Thng, product manager at Verily, demonstrated how machine learning has enormous potential to disrupt healthcare explaining how diabetic retinopathy is one of the leading causes of blindness that can be treated if caught early. One early exemplar of AI in healthcare is the work that the Google research team did to classify retinal images to help expand access and improve quality of care with machine learning solutions. 

One left HIMSS18 with the sense that healthcare is finally on the cusp of real change, that patients are at the center of the technology conversation, not the last stakeholder to be considered; that government, research, technology and healthcare providers want to work together to solve difficult problems and that those solutions are within reach. Challenges that would have been insurmountable in the past seem solvable.