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Healthcare Symposium Finds Three Recurring Themes

By Emily Sopensky

Recently, a day-long symposium, “Join the Evolution to the Revolution – Transforming and Innovating Healthcare Through New Technologies”, co-produced by the Intelligent Health Association and IEEE, was held just prior to the annual Health Information Management Systems Society (HIMSS) conference and exhibit Read about the highlights and takeaways in this review of the Symposium.

Themed “Transforming and Innovating Health Through the Adoption of New Technologies”, the symposium featured physicians and academics whose interests and disciplines include working with and introducing new technologies in their organization or healthcare facility.

Held in the Orlando Hilton, across the catwalk from the massive Orange Coast Convention Center, the meeting featured some of brightest and engaging accelerators of wireless technology in healthcare facilities, especially hospitals. This is the fourth year for the symposium, which is scheduled one day prior to the commencement of HIMSS14, of the Health Information Management Systems Society. Roughly 40,000 attend this annual conference and exhibit.

The symposium was a compilation of lessons learned, case studies and first-hand experiences in implementing new technologies, including Auto-ID, Biometrics, BLE, M2M, NFC, RFID, RTLS, Sensors, and Wireless Solutions.

The takeaways were:

  • Standards. There was substantial interest in standards development. One question raised was, “Are there forums, etc., for addressing and developing standards?” Bill Ash and Kathryn Bennett, IEEE Standards Association, met at break with some of those interested in learning and doing more.
  • Analytics/informatics. When speaking of analytics, the consensus was that now that we have the data, we are starting to analyze. But what are the metrics?
  • Team of teams. Debbie Elgot of HP speaking about HP’s engagement with the US Veterans Affairs, hit the nail on the head when she said we need a “team of teams” to accomplish technology solutions implementation. How to meld the various cultures and overcome the siloed professions within the facility environment?

Additionally, Dr. Neil Halpern and others repeatedly pointed to the Intelligent Health Pavilion at the HIMSS exhibit Hall as the tool that helps turn decision-makers in institutional facilities. In the pavilion, the integration of tools and devices used in hospital suites, such as in the ICU, ED, stepdown, pharmacy, and so on, is demonstrated. Seeing the solutions in action helps the hospital executives understand and learn how the technology solutions can apply to their facility.

The symposium was anchored by three keynotes:

  • Morning keynote: Chris Jerry founder and Chair, Emily Jerry Foundation, explained how the foundation is working to eliminate medical errors and advocate patient care and safety through the adoption of technology. He related the heartbreaking story of why he established the foundation: the death of his 2-year-old daughter from a medical error.
  • Lunch keynote: Imperial College professor Guang-Zhong Yang, IEEE Distinguished Lecturer and Editor-in-Chief of theIEEE Journal on Biomedical & Health Informatics spoke on “Body Sensor Networks – Reshaping the Future of Pervasive Healthcare.” Dr. Yang’s work on robotics in the surgical suites was spellbinding and augmented with video taken inside the body. He addressed the increasingly important role of wearable or implanted wireless devices, along with the key technical challenges, latest developments, and practical examples on how best to implement these technologies. Professor Guang-Zhong Yang is Director and co-founder of the Hamlyn Centre for Robotic Surgery; and deputy chair of the Institute of Global Health Innovation, Imperial College London, UK.
  • Afternoon keynote: Dr. Neil A. Halpern’s presented “Advanced Informatics in the Intensive Care Unit”. Halpern is an avowed geek who relishes technology in his ICU suites at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (NY), where he heads Critical Care Medicine Service in the Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care. He is also Professor of Medicine in Clinical Anesthesiology and Professor of Clinical Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College. He summed up the dilemma that so many healthcare institutions face: lots of cool new technologies available, but the challenge is to integrate minimally tested technologies manufactured by a variety of vendors who often compete with one another while the facility is live 24 hours a day with a goal of transforming reams of data to meaningful and actionable information.

Some of the other speakers and their topics

  • Scott Phillips, Kaiser Permanente’s RFID Portfolio Manager, spoke about the future of indoor location technologies in healthcare. He suggested that vendors embed RTLS for standards to emerge more quickly and for RTLS to blend with passive tagging and mobile devices.
  • Chris Gutmann, director of clinical engineering of Yale-New Haven Health on business Intelligence to improve asset management
  • Margaret K. Dittloff, Product Manager, CBORD on mobile meal ordering as a strategic differentiator.
  • Troy Reiff RN, Executive Director, Operations, St. Vincent Seton Specialty Hospital on supply chain data analytics.
  • Kimberly Brayley, Director, RTLS Project, Veterans Health Administration, “VA RTLS: A Learning Journey”
  • Debbie Elgot, HP, enterprise-wide implementation of pilots–some lessons learned. Implementing a technology solution across the vast US Veterans Affairs with multiple sites requires strong steering committees and site champions. Much of the education of these stakeholders includes demystifying technology. Nailing down the process specifics, such as an accurate inventory, is crucial to wide acceptance of a technology solution.
  • Kelley Reece, Asst. Pharmacy Manager, MD Anderson Cancer Center, Implementing Technology to Improve Safety and Efficiency in the Pharmacy Clean Room
  • Andrew Malcolmson, Covidien, Continuous Remote Patient Monitoring
  • Karie Ryan, Chief Clinical Informatics Officer; Health First, Innovation in Physician Communication
  • Carola Endicott, VP Operations & Services, Cardinal Health, Beyond RFID: One Size Does Not Fit All: Integrated Inventory Management Solutions for Hospital and Network-Wide Visibility
  • Howard Landa, CMIO, Alameda County Medical Center, Business Process and Data Analytics: The Peanut Butter Cup of Healthcare Information Technology

Dr. Halpern led a very insightful panel discussion about the technology and today’s healthcare continuum. Based on their experience and expertise, Dr. Howard Landa, Scott Philips, Kimberly Brayley and Guang-Zhong Yang responded to questions from the attendees.

“By sharing their first-hand experiences on how these new technologies have been successfully implemented in their own care centers, we all stand to reap tremendous benefits from their lessons learned,” said EMBS President, Bruce Wheeler.

The final question posed at the end of the Symposium was: Are you ready for this revolution?


Emily SopenskyEmily Sopensky co-founded the RFID in Healthcare Consortium in 2008 as an educational not-for-profit addressing technology primarily in healthcare facilities. Initially created 5 years ago by the RHCC, 2014 is the first year the Symposium has substantial IEEE involvement (Life Sciences and Engineering Medicine and Biology Society). As an active IEEE volunteer and Chair-Elect, IEEE Technical Committee on RFID (CRFID), she anticipates next year’s symposium will similarly have active IEEE participation. Read more

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April 2014 Contributors

Mary Capelli-SchellpfefferMary Capelli-Schellpfeffer, MD, MPA, is Medical Director of Loyola University Health System's Occupational Health Services, and Associate Professor, Department of Medicine, Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. Dr. Mary Capelli-Schellpfeffer guides Loyola's occupational medicine programs. An IEEE Fellow and global consultant regarding electrical safety, she is widely recognized for her work on risk mitigation in complex systems. Read more

Emily SopenskyEmily Sopensky co-founded the RFID in Healthcare Consortium in 2008 as an educational not-for-profit addressing technology primarily in healthcare facilities. Initially created 5 years ago by the RHCC, 2014 is the first year the Symposium has substantial IEEE involvement (Life Sciences and Engineering Medicine and Biology Society). As an active IEEE volunteer and Chair-Elect, IEEE Technical Committee on RFID (CRFID), she anticipates next year's symposium will similarly have active IEEE participation. Read more

Kuldeep Singh V RajputKuldeep Singh V Rajput is a Project Associate at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, India. He received the B. Tech degree from the B.V. Bhoomaraddi College of Engineering and Technology. His research interests are in the field of VLSI, Computer Vision and Graphics, Haptics, Signal Processing, Biomedical Engineering and Biosensors. Read more

Po-Yen WuPo-Yen Wu is a Ph.D. student in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. His research interests include (1) designing novel methodologies to improve the data analysis pipeline for RNA-sequencing data, (2) exploring data-mining techniques for extracting meaningful patterns in electronic health records, and (3) integrating information from RNA-sequencing data and electronic health records to improve the prediction performance of clinical endpoints. Read more

Janani VenugopalanJanani Venugopalan is a Ph.D. student in the Joint Dept. of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia. Her research focuses on health informatics. Her research focuses on clinical decision making using HER data, which are currently in collaboration with Children's Healthcare of Atlanta and Emory. Read more

Sonal KothariSonal Kothari received her Ph.D. degree in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow working under Principle Investigator May D. Wang in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University. Her research interests are in the areas of imaging informatics, histopathological image analysis, pattern recognition, and visualization. Read more

Chanchala D. KaddiChanchala D. Kaddi is currently a Ph.D. student in Bioengineering at Georgia Institute of Technology. She is a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow. Her research interests are in computational systems biology and bioinformatics, including methods for mass spectrometry imaging data analysis and predictive models for cancer research. Read more

Chih-Wen ChengChih-Wen Cheng is currently pursuing his Ph.D. as a graduate research assistant in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. His research focuses on applying data mining, cloud computing, and mobile technologies to improve clinical decision-making to facilitate quality-of-healthcare. Read more

John H. PhanJohn H. Phan is an assistant research professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA. He received his Ph.D. degree in biomedical engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University. His research is focused on knowledge-driven high-throughput analysis of biomedical data, high-performance and grid computing, and integrative bioinformatics. Read more

May WangMay Wang is an Associate Professor in the Joint Department of BME, School of ECE, The Winship Cancer Institute, IBB, and IPaT at Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University, USA. She is a Georgia Research Alliance Distinguished Cancer Scholar, Director of the Biocomputing and Bioinformatics Core in Emory-GeorgiaTech Cancer Nanotechnology Center, and Co-Director of Georgia-Tech Center of Bio-Imaging Mass Spectrometry. Prof. Wang's research is on Big Biomedical Data Analytics with a focus on Biomedical and Health Informatics (BHI) for Personalized and Predictive Health. It includes high throughput next generation sequencing and -omic data mining to identify clinical biomarkers, pathological imaging informatics, health informatics, bionanoinformatics, and systems modeling. Read more