I just got back from a jam-packed few days in Vegas for HIMSS 2016. Just me and 40,000 of my closest HIT friends.
The mix was 2/3 vendors, 1/3 healthcare systems, I heard. Lots of excitement, lots of energy, lots of promise. Lots of walking.
As I step back, I see four main themes jump out: Interoperability, population health, telehealth, patient engagement. Here’s my quick take on each.
Interoperability: Getting devices to talk to each other, share data, and play nicely together for the higher good- better care, better outcomes. Along with improving mediating outcomes like workflow and reducing errors. Kudos to device and IT companies for sharing and letting go of turf. It’s certainly time.
Population health: All about prediction to figure out whom to provide what services to. Seems to be a modern version of managed care in terms of bottom line purpose, but driven by predictive analytics and with far more tailoring of care. The key piece still under-estimated is how hard it can be to get people to change health behaviors.
Telehealth: Keeps evolving to let more and more care and monitoring happen remotely (or “out-of-person” vs. “in-person”). Now it’s not just connecting provider and patient, it covers connecting providers and providers, providers, payers, and patients, etc. This will challenge our paradigm about what monitoring, diagnosing, and treating can only be done in-person. I think the litmus test for clinical care is empathy – to what extent can a provider truly empathize and thereby deeply understand a patient through mediating technology.
Patient engagement: Though it’s been around since the earliest days of healthcare, it now means all kinds of things and is catalyzing a wide variety of new products and services. Key issues here are about defining what it is and isn’t, developing objective metrics, and making it not a separate “thing,” but an integral and unavoidable part of every healthcare interaction.
Better interoperability behind the scenes, plus telehealth to enhance and extend relationships, combined with population health to focus resources, improves patient engagement to make it all matter.