HIMSS19 Recap

Miriam Isola, DrPH CPHIMS

At the HIMSS19 Global Conference in Orlando last week it was plain to see that healthcare information technology is moving into a new phase that focuses even more intensely on actually solving problems.  The industry is finally asking the question posed by Clayton M. Christensen in his book The Innovator’s Prescription, “What jobs are our customers trying to do?”  This year the industry mindset has shifted from “knowing about” to actually applying knowledge to design, develop and create solutions in areas such as:

-Interoperability – Previously the industry was defining the issue and clarifying the need for data exchange.  This year, presenters and vendors were presenting solutions for interoperability.  The influx of non-traditional healthcare companies like Apple, Amazon Web Services, Google and others are pushing healthcare companies toward solutions, such as a new API economy, and setting new expectations.

-Innovation – Previously the focus was on implementation of systems such as EMRs and other advanced clinical technology.  This year, there were many developers and computer scientists attending HIMSS19 and looking to apply their know-how to healthcare.  This is taking the form of applying artificial intelligence to healthcare.  I attended a session where a panel discussed how to bring new innovations live within 90 days.  This is an ambitious timeframe and raises challenges for how to operate with a new consumer-focused mindset.  Healthcare providers across the country are launching innovation labs to explore new solutions.

I explored the vendor floor to see demos of complex work and dataflows for addressing the Opioid crisis where data moves from the consumer, to the EMR and then on to public health reporting systems and ultimately to the CDC.  Data is used at the point-of-care and then also extended to report trends locally, regionally and nation-wide. 

Mobile apps and devices were prominent at HIMSS19 with solutions for engaging consumers in health and wellness, tracking and monitoring chronic conditions and even a digital assistant for physicians (Suki).

In several sessions I attended, there was a clearly stated recognition that the easiest problems to solve are the technology challenges, but it is the human factors that ultimately impact the results. Just because you build it does not guarantee they will come – they being providers and consumers.  

So, what are the biggest jobs our customers are trying to do? I think the biggest job ahead of us is to tackle the cost issues we hear about in the news every day.  Currently, our solutions are not lowering the cost of healthcare.  Even with full interoperability and tremendous innovation, healthcare consumers are struggling with the cost of healthcare.  This impacts their access to healthcare today and weighs heavily on consumer minds as they imagine and dread their own personal healthcare future.  Health IT innovators must take on the ultimate challenge - to solve the healthcare cost crisis.

Improving Patient Experience: Sharing patient data for medication management

Miriam Isola, DrPH CPHIMS, David Troiano, RPh, MSIA, CPPS, Kathy Schneider, PhD

Previously we have written about the importance of patient engagement and activation to improve patient health outcomes.  Along with outcomes, the patient experience is enhanced through a collaborative approach with their care team and tools to support monitoring and positive health behavior changes.  We have also talked about the need for providers to have timely and accurate information regarding patient health. Both collaborative communications and data sharing specifically related to medication use are fundamental components of improving the patient experience.

Appropriate medication use is essential for managing many chronic conditions, including diabetes, asthma and heart disease.  However, there is not a simple solution to ensure patients receive the prescriptions, education, and support needed to maintain the desired medication therapy. Medication therapy management is a complex issue that encompasses: 1) evidence-based clinical guidelines for the pharmaceutical management of the condition, 2) provider prescribing the recommended medication and the correct dosing, 3) provider verifying the patient is not taking any contraindicated medications, 4) the patient obtaining the prescribed medication, and 5) the patient taking the medication as prescribed (and continuing to do so for the duration of therapy).  Getting all of these steps right is critical to optimal medication therapy management and to avoid issues such as:

  • Polypharmacy -taking five or more medications, many for the same condition.  This can lead to an increased incidence of drug interactions, side effects, and adverse reactions. 

  • Medication errors– not using a medication as intended is a significant source of harm.

  • Patient adherence -lack of adherence often results in suboptimal disease control.

Read More… 

Farewell to 2016 – and Moving Ahead to 2017

Sum-IT Health Analytics is completing its first full year of operation! We have been fortunate to work with several different hospitals and healthcare organizations during 2016.  Each new experience enables us to build relationships as we learn about your successes and challenges in being data-driven.  We are privileged to witness exceptional leadership and devotion to high quality patient care that has been so apparent in our meetings. 

In 2016, Sum-IT wrote White Papers on vital topics to help our clients to build analytic capabilities.  These include:

  • Population Health – the importance of taking a Public Health approach

  • Patient Engagement and Activation: the last mile towards healthier outcomes

  • Patient Complexity and Population Stratification Strategies

Patient Complexity and Population Stratification Strategies

The prevalence of multiple chronic conditions is significant, and must factor into strategies for effectively managing care for patient populations.  However, the presence of chronic disease is not the only meaningful way to risk stratify this particular patient population.  Caring for your population doesn’t begin with a risk score; it begins with a clear objective for the scoring strategy.  The risk score cannot be the sole driver in caring for the population, but rather it is a key metric to use for population segmentation and refining strategies that ultimately lead to the appropriate plan of care.

Patient Engagement and Activation: the last mile towards healthier outcomes

In an earlier paper we discussed the benefits of incorporating a public health approach as healthcare providers build programs for population health management.  We can use analytics to develop risk segmentations of our population and predictive models so we can target patients with personalized interventions.  At the same time, we know that healthy behaviors can account for 30% of health outcomes, therefore, it is imperative that we find a way to engage and activate patients so that they have the knowledge, skills, and support to make behavior changes that will lead to better health. 

Population Health – the importance of taking a Public Health approach

The healthcare industry is experiencing a growing realization and acceptance of the importance of patient-centered care with a focus on health and wellness.  This movement is described as a shift toward population health.  Along with promoting access to medical care, one of the major thrusts of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is to transition from an illness-based medical system that treats sick people, to one with a primary focus of keeping people healthy. 

Bottom-Up Strategies for Improving Quality and Reducing Costs – why delay ROI?

Now that investments have been made and electronic medical records (EMRs) are prevalent throughout the US healthcare system, healthcare organizations (HCOs) are challenged to get value from their investments.  EMRs not only digitize patient information, they function as data collection tools, helping to structure patient information and they have some obvious benefits such as: