Take a Listening Tour of Health IT Value on HIMSS17 Exhibition Floor

by: Lorren Pettit, vice president, research, health information systems. HIMSS North America

The HIMSS Value STEPSTM framework continues to prove itself as an effective approach for cataloguing the various positive expressions (value) healthcare providers and provider organizations realize from their use of health IT. In fact, the model’s utility will be fully leveraged at this year’s HIMSS17 conference as every education session speaker has been asked to link their specific presentation to at least one of the value pillars from the STEPS model. While the HIMSS17 presentations promise to add greatly to the value evidences of health IT, these presentations represent a minute fraction of the value examples contained within the searchable HIMSS Value Suite database.

Given the wealth of information contained within the Value Suite, HIMSS embarked on a series in September 2016 to explore and detail the themes emulating from the value examples contained within the Value Suite database. By taking the summary descriptions of each value example and entering the text into a “word cloud” generator, we produced visuals reflecting the most frequently used words in the value descriptions. We then offer simple observations of the word clouds, leading us to suggest potential value themes. Given variances in the adoption and use of health IT in various healthcare settings, we decided to analyze “themes” by according to the following organizational types:

  1. Hospital-based organizations
  2. Clinics/Physician offices
  3. Other types of healthcare organizations (home health agencies; Information exchange organizations; etc.)

Satisfaction: Our first evaluation centered on SATISFACTION as a value of health IT. This month’s focus is on the TREATMENT pillar of the STEPS model.


The TREATMENT component of the STEPS framework centers on the impact health IT has in the delivery of clinical care. Recognizing that the core functionality of health IT is to support clinical care, it comes as little surprise that Treatment is the most populated section of the Value Suite database, comprised of over 2,300 examples.

Below are the word clouds we generated for the three provider settings studied:






A few simple thematic observations jump out when looking at these word clouds:

  1. PATIENTS constitute a central concern for the clinical benefits involving health IT

The most dominant word emerging in all three word clouds was “patient” suggesting that those reporting on the positive clinical impact of health IT tended to center their focus on evidence involving patients. This finding underscores the importance healthcare organizations are placing on “patient-centeredness” in the delivery of care.

  1. The degree to which PATIENTS evidence is manifest varies somewhat by organization type

Though evidence involving PATIENTS is the most frequently cited word in all three healthcare settings, the dominance of this stakeholder group presents as relatively “muted” in “other healthcare organizations” compared to the clinic/ambulatory and hospital settings. This finding suggests there is a greater plurality of clinical issues involving health IT in these “other” settings than the primacy of the patient in hospitals and clinics/ambulatory settings.

Perhaps one of the more interesting findings from this study surrounds the analysis of the sub-categories by organizational setting.




  1. QUALITY and EFFICIENCY evidence are the dominant clinical benefits cited by organizations

Regardless of the setting, over three-quarters of the evidences offered involved examples of either clinical quality or clinical efficiency. That said, the dominance of the evidence varied by setting with clinics/ambulatory settings tending to more frequently cite clinical efficiency benefits whereas hospitals tend to favor clinical quality benefits.



Creating and interpreting word clouds are of little value unless there is some application (or SO WHAT) to the findings. Based on my reading of the word clouds, I would offer the following:

Organizations leveraging IT to support their clinical efforts communicate the clinical benefits of these systems by linking the benefits to the patients they serve. Vendors selling solutions in this space would be well-served to keep this principle in mind when promoting their offerings.

If one accepts the above “story,” then, I am all the more interested in walking the HIMSS17 exhibit floor and “listening” for how vendors link their solutions to patients. I encourage you join us in Orlando for HIMSS17 and prepare for your “listening tour” of the exhibition floor now by viewing the current list of exhibitors.





in health and IT meet.