Stoking the FHIR at HIMSS24….Part 2

Wednesday afternoon brought with it another session on the Da Vinci Burden Reduction implementation guides for end-to-end prior authorization on FHIR. Susan Bellile was there from Availity to show the pilot they had collaborated on with Athenahealth and Humana to have providers be able to determine if coverage was required for a service, obtain the necessary documentation and data points needed to request prior authorization, and submit the request without ever leaving their EHR system. The ability to view all of their active and completed requests and any associated status within the EHR was a nice touch, and shows the power of FHIR in making processes more efficient for providers and clinicians.

With Wednesday’s sessions closing out, I received a much-anticipated text from my good friend Rick Geimer - he had scouted out a karaoke bar in the area and invited me to meet him there later that evening. After enjoying a wonderful dinner at a Brazilian Steakhouse with my colleagues Carol, Bill, Karen, Marion, Michelle, and Heather, we all made the long trek down International Drive towards the location of the night’s festivities. Karen and her husband turned in for the night, and as we passed our hotel, Bill and Michelle departed also, perhaps making the wise choice. Undaunted, the four of us who remained continued our journey, and were soon joined by two former colleagues of mine - the amazing Chitra Gummadi and the wonderful Lynne Kriho. We headed inside the aptly named “O’Shuck’s Pub”, where we met Rickand several of his Lantana friends, along with a chap from Snowflake…Ryan? I think his name was Ryan. And of course, the evergreen Joel Walker.

As is customary, we enjoyed a few drinks, we shared a few laughs, and we sang a few songs. These moments of bonding with industry peers and like-minded folks always bring me joy, and this occasion was no exception. Late into the night, I accompanied Chitra and Lynne back up International Drive to my hotel, and saw them off in an Uber to return them to their accommodations. Another poor night’s sleep and it was back up Thursday morning for coffee and a bagel, then back to the convention center.

I met up with Bill and we headed to the Government pavilion for a fantastic presentation on the government’s quality systems modernization journey. We heard from a panel of CMS ISG leaders, Mark Plaugher, Betina Fletcher, Quentin Tyson, and Ken Howard, on the steps that our government is taking to modernize existing systems, and to ensure that new systems are sufficiently designed to ensure long-term usability. It’s easy to forget that CMS are the world’s largest healthcare payer, they process 4.5% of the US GDP every DAY. It excites me to know that our government is actively trying to improve and modernize in a world where many are trying to be the “next big thing”.

At this point in the week, I’d grown tired of the not-so-great food offerings at the convention center, so I caught the shuttle back to the hotel for some lunch. Here, I bumped into co-worker Karen and her husband. We exchanged a few words, then I had lunch and headed back. My final session on the slate for the week was another perspective on the CMS-0057-F Advancing Interoperability rule, this time from the Blue Cross Blue Shield association, courtesy of one of the most supportive and genuine people in this entire industry, the incomparable Matt Schuller. As one of the largest Payer organizations in the country, it was great to get the viewpoint of Matt and his associate Devi Mehta, as they voiced their excitement and gratitude that the Federal Government is plowing forward with FHIR adoption and legislatively mandating its use.

With the conference winding down to a close, I skipped back to the hotel to change and get ready for the “Special Networking Event” at Universal Studios on Thursday evening. Evidently I was a little too enthusiastic, as I made the first coach to the theme park, but my colleagues were still getting ready. Still, they arrived at the entrance to Universal Studios about 15 minutes after I did. After standing in line for a small eternity, we were finally allowed to enter. As they funneled us into a corner of the theme park reserved for this event, it soon became clear that they had sold a LOT more tickets to this “exclusive event” than I had previously thought. We fought the crowds and acquired some beverages, sampled some food from the various little food stations scattered throughout the City Walk, and eventually made our way to the fun part - the rides….

….Except that only a few of them were made available to us, and the lines were slightly insane. The time allotted was something like 2 hours, and the line for the Incredible Hulk ride was longer than that. Undeterred, we carried on, deeper into the theme park where several members of our little cohort decided they wanted to ride the Spiderman attraction. I declined this, not feeling at my best, as did Bill and Marion. As we walked, the Dr Doom death drop ride thing caught Bill’s eye and he decided he had to ride it. Marion and I sat outside waiting for him, where I discovered that Marion is actually from France - small world! We rejoined the rest of our group and headed slowly for the exit, after what was an enjoyable night and an incredible week taking in everything HIMSS24 had to offer. More than anything, I came away feeling that HIMSS was about making connections and forming or expanding networks of people that we can collaborate with, learn from, or help out in some capacity. People are what drive this industry, and HIMSS is a place where you can meet a lot of truly exceptional people.

Next up on the conference slate for me this year is the HL7 Working Group Meeting in Dallas beginning May 20th, and I’m sure I’ll have much to tell after that one. Until next time…

Benji Graham

FHIR Evangelist

Bellese Technologies


Benji Graham Bellese Profile Photo
Benji Graham
FHIR Evangelist