My Trip Report: Virtual Reality, Artificial Intelligence, and Workflow at #HIMSS18

“We are your here!” said anchor and host Adam Johnson (@AJInsight on Twitter) during our interview on HIMSSTV (the first live segment, 9AM, March 6th).

“Hereness”! It really is a word (noun: the state of being here in this place, according to the Webster Dictionary). I’ve been thinking about hereness a lot recently, ever since I started traveling to distant places and meeting distant people via virtual reality. For example, I watched the recent eclipse, with others, in real-time, via 360 video, wearing a VR headset, SIX TIMES, as it moved from Corvallis, Oregon, to a cruise ship off Florida. HIMSSTV is an important move toward making folks feel as if they are “here”, present at the center of action, at HIMSS18, at future HIMSS conferences, and in between!

If I had to boil HIMSS18 down to a half a dozen takeaways, here they are… (keep in mind, I’m a quirky person with idiosyncratic, even obsessive tastes…)

1. HIMSSTV is great!

In our house we have the news on, in the background, most of the day. When I got back from HIMSS18, I replayed all 9 hours HIMSSTV on ROKU instead. Loved it!

Action item: + Add Channel!

2. There were a lot of virtual reality demos on the exhibit floor!

Check out the photos on Twitter. The Virtual Reality Gets Real in Healthcare educational session at HIMSS18 emphasized that VR increasingly learns from, and adapts to, patients and clinicians. Costs keep dropping and the Star Trek holodeck is getting closer!

By the way, during HIMSS18 I hosted two-hours-a-day of social virtual reality experience. Folks from all over North America and the world, some wearing VR headsets, hung out in a cool meeting space in a beautiful Park on top of a mountain, discussing health IT!

Here is a tour of that space…

And here is one reaction to participating.

Action item: Join me in social virtual reality to chat about health IT!

Workflow has arrived in health IT, big time!

Workflow, and its technologies (workflow engines, graphical editors, workflow analytics…) have finally arrived in a big, big way. As an industrial engineer (basically a degree in workflow), who went to medical school, I’ve been evangelizing workflow technology in healthcare for almost three decades. Every year since HIMSS12 I’ve searched every single website of every single HIMSS exhibitor for workflow-related content, and then blog, tweet, livestream, and now host social virtual reality experiences, about it. Back then, believe it or not, hardly anyone even mentioned it. Now almost everyone has some sort of workflow story. This year my search query was: “workflow engine” OR “business process management” OR BPM OR RPA OR “robotic process automation” OR orchestration OR orchestrator. As a result I tweeted about over 200 exhibitors (peruse here, even if you don’t have a Twitter account).

Action item: Apply my Litmus Test for Detecting Frozen EHR Workflow (which applies to healthcare software in general).

Ai yai yai! AI!

Don’t get me wrong. I love artificial intelligence. I have an MS in Intelligent Systems, met John McCarthy (who named AI), and attended lectures by Herbert Simon (sometimes called the father of AI). Also, see my pre-HIMSS17 series, including A guide to AI, machine learning and new workflow technologies at HIMSS17 Part 1: Machine learning and workflow. The key to getting useful results from AI and machine learning is to ask, show me the workflow! Show me, step-by-step, MY workflow, and how AI/ML applied at a specific step in MY workflow, increases something good, or decreases something bad. That said, I saw a lot of AI/ML startups taking about customer workflow, particularly in combination with robotic process automation tech.

Action item: If someone tries to sell you an AI/machine learning solution, shout “Show Me The Workflow!”


If you’re interested in workflow, draw it and show it to me. I’m genuinely interested. You can contact me via Twitter ( or my blog’s contact form. (

If you’re interested in HIMSSTV, watch it!

If your interested in all the above, including artificial intelligence and machine learning, book your hotel in Orlando for HIMSS19! Review proposals! Submit a proposal! Exhibit!)

If you are interested in virtual reality, I have a really great book to recommend, it’s called Experience on Demand by @StanfordVR. It just came out. It’s about virtual reality from the point of view, not of a techie, but of a psychologist. It’s full of medically-relevant examples, from training to pain management. It’s about achieving hereness, through “presence”, the “illusion of non-mediation.” (My interpretation? Presence is the illusion that an illusion is not an illusion.) Since I was interviewed about virtual reality (and its connection to workflow) in the very first live HIMSSTV segment, watch it now! Please subscribe to my Youtube channel! I’ll post more segments from my social virtual reality experiences.

I’m so excited about VR, I’ve been playing Johnny Appleseed, giving away (over four dozen!) inexpensive VR glasses on health IT social media.

If I’ve run out, you can still get them on Amazon.

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