Guest Column | February 21, 2019

Less Talk, More Action: 3 Ways HIMSS19 Is Kickstarting Conversations

By Susan M. Reese, Kronos Incorporated

Let’s Talk About The Channel’s Lack Of Diversity

HIMSS19 has come and gone, once again leaving us inspired, energized, and ready to take the next steps in supporting the industry’s vibrant transformation. We felt empowered by new advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning impacting patient care delivery; connected and secure thanks to a rising tide of interoperable tools to facilitate collaboration; and engaged with our peers as we all work toward delivering better healthcare experiences across the globe.

But this year more than ever, there was a call to action: Let’s stop talking about how information and technology can advance healthcare, and let’s actually do it. Let’s apply our collective knowledge to ensure clinicians have the right tools in place to provide optimum care and improve the patient experience. Let’s collectively build an engaging workplace culture and reduce clinician burnout. And let’s finally deliver intuitive technology that makes healthcare more accessible than ever for consumers.

With HIMSS19 continuing to build momentum for consumerism, integrations, and collaboration – as well as discussing the role they play in reshaping the healthcare industry – it’s with excitement (and anticipation for the future) that I share my perspective on each of these key areas.

Trend #1: Consumerism

HIMSS19 opened our eyes to how changing models of care delivery and disruptive technologies are resulting from the consumerization of healthcare, a phenomenon that has the patient as the driver of how care is delivered. The industry is responding with extraordinary speed to the patient’s demands for speed, information, and accessibility.

You may recall that last year, at HIMSS18, there was a heavy focus on value-based care models driven by timely discussions around the Affordable Care Act. This year, however, the volume was down on value-based care and the conversation shifted to reveal a heightened focus on accessible technologies and the concept of the patient as a consumer.

Think of it as an industrywide shift: Where healthcare was once exclusively a B2B market, it’s now also emerging as a B2C market, fostering an incredible level of patient-driven innovation. And while tech giants and other industry outsiders may have driven the narrative around consumerism last year, HIMSS19 saw the smaller, niche healthcare IT players pick up the torch. These emerging innovators have embraced consumerism head-on to introduce consumer-friendly applications that bridge the gap between patient engagement and consumer experience.

This heightened focus isn’t limited to the patient as the consumer, however. It extends to the workforce where the employee is the consumer of workplace practices and methodologies. The healthcare worker is leading the charge in how they are recruited, retained, deployed, and managed. As a result, we see a rising demand for mobile technologies, streamlined onboarding practices, flexible work schedules and heightened requirements for fairness and equity in workforce management practices.

Trend #2: Integrations

Integrations will become the lifeblood of the healthcare industry. Health organizations are hungry for interoperable solutions – from cloud-based EHR software and patient-facing applications, to intelligent HR solutions and more – that surface relevant data needed to make decisions in real time. In turn, health IT vendors are under increasing pressure to deliver new and engaging solutions that allow everyone to get more done, faster, through better insights and a simplified user experience.

For years we’ve heard the call for interoperability at HIMSS, yet enterprise solutions have long been a challenge to integrate and have often not easily fit into the actual workflow of care delivery. But now more than ever, it’s well within our means as an industry to foster close collaboration to deliver new, innovative applications, product extensions, and real-time integrations that can seamlessly connect business applications and fully support natural workflows.

The future of work, for example, requires us to use technology integrations wisely to unburden the workforce from unnecessary and complex administrative tasks while empowering supervisors and health leaders to manage in the moment. On the forefront of the interoperability conversation, Epic is actively developing a tight-knit integration with workforce management technology to enhance the value of both solutions, while empowering organizations to equally extend the value of their health IT investments.

Interoperability will bring disparate data together and speed the value of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. With AI and machine learning being the most frequently heard buzzwords at HIMSS19, the race is on to see who will get there quickly and create information out of the Everest of data we have so skillfully collected in recent years.

Trend #3: Collaboration

Collaboration is essential to the provision of safe, effective and efficient care. The power hierarchy is collapsing around us and, with those barriers to communication down, the need to find a new and more powerful communication methodology across the continuum of care is required. The industry’s focus on collaboration, has made it easier than ever for healthcare organizations to utilize Big Data to inform current and future performance, support the delivery of safe care to patients, and achieve financial and superior clinical outcomes.

One critically important discussion throughout the conference was related to data ownership. Specifically, the patient’s medical record information. Once the tightly guarded information was available almost exclusively to the provider, but today the locus of control and access is shifting to the patient. HIMSS19 showed us new technologies for communicating sensitive information between providers and patients. Innovation was everywhere from secure texting to the facilitation of telemedicine with video and FaceTime-like handheld tools.  

Finally, we have put the patient, our healthcare consumer, at the center of everything we do in healthcare delivery. They are the driver of our workflows and our communications. This is resulting in the industry being pushed to be transparent with information, build tools that share information, and create an atmosphere for the healthcare workforce that supports innovation and flexibility. It’s a virtuous cycle that we’re hopeful to see blossom for years to come.

About The Author

Susan M. Reese, DNP, MBA, RN, CPHIMS, is chief nursing executive/director, healthcare practice group for Kronos Incorporated.