One of the most common questions we get from clients heading into HIMSS is: What’s trending? After all, booths, badges and general bacchanalia at the world’s largest healthcare technology conference don’t come cheap. It helps to know what topics, issues, executives, media, speakers, influencers and brands are trending up…down…or in between. Smart marketers and communicators and their CEOs invest in these insights to inform their message, cut through the clutter and make stronger connections.

So, on the eve of HIMSS18, me and my fellow army of digital health nerds at W2O Group thought it would be worthwhile to share some such insights. HIMSS itself does provide a bit of a petri dish to understand how market conversations are trending.

Like kids in a candy store, the W2O Group analytics team dug into the data, comparing social discussions in the weeks and months before HIMSS18 versus HIMSS17. [i]  More specifically, they viewed public data through the lens of the MDigitalLife Health Ecosystem, which maps online behavior and digital footprints of more than 870,000 stakeholders worldwide, including doctors, patients, industry CXOs, hospitals, payers, technology vendors, advocacy organizations, media, analysts and among many others). For this particular analysis, we analyzed tweets mentioning HIMSS from verified authors in the Health Ecosystem.

Below are five takeaways from W2O’s pre-HIMSS18 social conversation analysis:  

1. The unofficial HIMSS prom court: If HIMSS had a prom court, Rasu Shrestha (@RasuShrestha) and Geeta Nayer, MD, (@gnayar) would be dubbed King and Queen, with Janae Sharp (@CoherenceMed), Danielle Siarri (@innonurse), Nick van Terheyden, MD (@drnic1), Charles Webster, MD (@WareFLO), Linda Stotsky (@EMRAnswers), Colin Hung (@Colin_Hung) and Max Stroud (@MMaxwellStroud) rounding out the group. The qualifier for this particular court is most mentioned handles within the HIMSS conversation from January 2017 to February 2018.

2. Social communities are thriving: Social groups and Twitter-based movements are a staple within the broader HIMSS conversation and engagement landscape. For example, #hcldr, which represents the weekly healthcare leader tweet chat/community, #HITsm, which is related to the healthcare IT social media gang and weekly tweet chat, and #pinksocks, which stands for the “PinkSocks Tribe” (whose members you’ll see wearing said color socks with curious mustaches on them at conferences) are all among the top hashtags in the HIMSS conversation both pre-HIMSS 2017 and 2018.

3. Conversation topics on the rise:

  • Precision medicine: From advances in genomics to the necessity that is taking a patient-centric approach to care delivery, use of “precision medicine” increased nearly 200% pre-HIMSS18 versus HIMSS17.
  • Patient centric: Both “patient centered” and “patient outcome” were used 55% and 48% more, respectively, in the weeks leading up to HIMSS18 versus HIMSS17. With HIMSS providing scholarships for patients and advocates at this year’s event (YES), and groups like the Society for Participatory Medicine playing a role, it’s great to see that the social conversation are increasingly mapping back to the patient.
  • Workflow technology: Someone tell @WareFLO that HIMSS-focused discussions mentioning “workflow tech” increased 90% leading up to HIMSS18—though perhaps not surprising, given the renewed industry focus on finding ways to alleviate the administrative burden and burnout on clinicians through better designed systems and solutions.
  • The artificial era: The AI revolution is very much alive and well. Conversations related to AI and machine learning were on the rise in the weeks before HIMSS18, with AI-related conversations increasing 19% pre-HIMSS18 compared to last year.
  • Analytics: None of the above are possible today without accounting for the role that data analytics plays. HIMSS-focused conversations referencing “data analytics” were up 20% leading up to HIMSS18 versus HIMSS17.

4. Notable hashtags support rising trends:

  • Reinforcing the patient-centered takeaways above, it’s great to see #patientengagement used 84% more this year in comparison to pre-HIMSS17.
  • #AI and its variants also increased in use prior to this year’s event as opposed to last, with many sessions in the HIMSS18 agenda focused on case studies of success and lessons learned from AI innovations in action. Related, #radiology is becoming a bigger part of the pre-HIMSS conversation, used 150% more compared to last year pre-event.
  • #VR, #AR and #IoT are even trendier this year, increasing in use upwards of 100-200% pre-HIMSS18 versus pre-HIMSS17.
  • #Aim2Innovate, #TransformHIT, #RethinkRCM, #EmpowerHIT and #Nurses4HIT all picked up steam this year leading in to the event in comparison to social chatter pre-HIMSS17.

5. What comes up…

As telling as it is to see what topics are trending up, those trending down can help tell a different story:

  • Policy-focused staples such as “MACRA” and “ACA” died down in use pre-HIMSS18 in comparison to the post-election year prior
  • Perhaps a bit more surprising, “healthcare costs” were mentioned 92% less leading up to HIMSS18 versus HIMSS17
  • While AI is heavily represented in the pre-event social conversations this year, blockchain in healthcare was mentioned 93% less pre-HIMSS18
  • Mobile apps are also not as popular in the pre-event chatter this year, mentioned 95% less ahead of HIMSS18
  • The patient-first narrative is seeming to take hold, with consumer health and customer experience being discussed 95% and 96% less, respectively, before this year’s event versus 2017.

Lastly, when looking at the audience breakdown of those driving the conversation (below), stakeholders that fall within in the health industry segment of the MDigitalLife Health Ecosystem—e.g., health system CXOs and technology decision makers—are the main conversation contributors, responsible for 40% of the HIMSS related posts, but only making up 27% of the authors.

U.S. Physicians are the opposite, contributing just 6% of posts but making up 23% of the authors. The takeaway? While doctors are present and accounted for, the health industry rules the HIMSS social discussion, contributing nearly seven times more than their caregiver counterparts.

What will the post-HIMSS18 story be? Stay tuned and we’ll tell you!


[i] Comparing conversation leading up to HIMSS 2017 (1.1.17 – 2.15.17) to conversation leading up to HIMSS 2018 (1.1.18 – 2.15.18)


 This blog was co-authored by Steven Cutbirth, Product Commercialization Lead, Healthcare Analytics Innovation at W2O