Live from the McKesson Insight 2009 Annual Conference

I am currently at the Insight 2009 Annual Conference in Orlando, where 1,200-1,400 attendees are converging to learn and build relationships centered on their McKesson healthcare IT systems. Users are hearing details of new product enhancements and integrations, learning best practices and engaging in valuable peer discussions they can take back to their organizations.

Overall, there seem to be two overarching themes that are driving discussions, both in sessions and in the hallways:

1. Economic Stimulus Education: people are learning about the HITECH act, and learning about the stimulus’ impact on healthcare IT, electronic medical records and data security in general

2. Healthcare Reform: on the heels of President Obama’s address to Congress Wednesday night, attendees are eager to get the latest on the healthcare reform debate in which the entire nation is enveloped

It is clear that we’re at a time when unprecedented change is coming to the healthcare industry. With this in mind, McKesson Chairman and CEO John Hammergren’s keynote focused on three things regarding healthcare IT reform:

1. Access to healthcare

2. Quality of healthcare

3. Cost of healthcare

Also worth noting, Hammergren highlighted the coming consumer revolution in healthcare, and tied it back to the healthcare IT systems that will empower patient care. Specifically, Consumer Reports is publishing a new rating system for hospitals, so healthcare organizations must compete in an entirely new way by having the right systems in place to ensure they are amongst the best across the three-legged stool of healthcare excellence: access, quality and cost.

Talking with a number of attendees at the conference, secure authentication continued to be a strong focus, with proximity cards and fingerprint biometrics driving the demos and discussions with vendors and peers. Workflow continues to be amongst the biggest drivers of strong authentication and healthcare single sign-on discussions, as healthcare organizations look to streamline operations, strengthen security and improve usability for clinicians, physicians and staff.

Hospitals are gearing up to make significant changes in healthcare IT, with a singular focus on upgrading systems and improving the healthcare experience for all – it’s clearly on top of everyone’s minds.