Siemens' Dillione is HIMSS' smartest executive

"Baby boomers will do to health care what they did to banking, retailing and everything else. The wave of consumerism will force these issues."

Janet Dillione of Siemens MedicalIt's hard to avoid stupidity in technology, especially medical technology, where niches are established and profits have been growing for years.

Janet Dillione, CEO for health solutions at Siemens Medical Solutions, Malvern, Penn., offered HIMSS a vision of interoperability, open standards, and SOA today so far from stupid she was revealed as the smartest person at the show.

She spoke clearly for about 15 minutes, steering clear of jargon, then answered reporters' questions until they gave up, offering each straight talk or granular detail based on her knowledge of their work and the qualities demanded in each query.

A short woman in a pantsuit and short heels, chopping her hands to emphasize points, I'm certain the comparisons with Hillary Clinton were rife. But get past the surface, listen closely, and you find an Obama-like vision which is far from wonky.

Her key graph was a chart of what health care is based on today, standardized solutions, and what it will be about in the future, patient-centric solutions using genetic knowledge. The result will be an explosion in demand for storage, bandwidth, and IT processing power throughout the health care industry.  

She described current practice as "here, try this," and that's a fair shorthand for it. But what happens when predictive health comes into its own, when your genes' story is known and care begins long before you are sick.

Dillione brought hard facts to the argument. "There are 15,000 genetic tests now waiting FDA aproval" was one. "Of our $2 trillion health care budget, one dollar in four goes to manage diabetes," was another.

By 2050 1 new Alzheimer's case will be diagnosed every 33 seconds, she warned. The number of people over 65 will double by 2030. "This is what our health care strategy is based on. There will have to be a huge IT transition in health care over the next 10 years."

Siemens is heavily into planning. This has run it out of many markets over the last decades.  It won't run Siemens out of health care, because Dillione's plans put it in line with technology trends as well as health trends.

Based on its long-term plans Siemens Medical has spent $20 billion on acquisitions over the last decade. At Siemens Dillione is best-known for launching Soarian, the company's workflow management system.

What sets Dillione apart isn't planning, but foresight. For instance, she knows how the present excitement over Personal Health Records will play out. Baby boomers getting diagnoses, learning about disease themselves, and building social networks around their health challenges will drive adoption, she said.

"Baby boomers will do to health care what they did to banking, retailing and everything else. The wave of consumerism will force these issues."

True wisdom in business is a very rare thing. The process of rising to the top tends to drive vision out, especially at large, bureaucratic institutions like Siemens. All of which makes Janet Dillione even more of a miracle.