By Ken Congdon
“Evidence needs to drive change and progress in healthcare — not ideology or beliefs.”
This was the rallying cry issued by former First Lady, Secretary Of State, and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton during her powerful keynote address at the HIMSS14 Annual Conference and Exhibition last week — and her message captured the spirit of this year’s event perfectly. More than 38,000 people packed Orlando’s Orange County Convention Center in search of the latest health IT education and technology. Many of these attendees were leading minds at provider organizations seeking ways to aggregate, analyze, and act upon the electronic health data they’ve been collecting over the past several years. Not coincidentally, many of the 1,233 vendors exhibiting at HIMSS14 showcased solutions that promised to help providers do precisely that.
Interoperability, business intelligence, data analytics, and population health management were among the hot topics at HIMSS14 and there are countless reasons why. However, perhaps the biggest driver is the move toward value-based reimbursement. Providers are finally accepting the fact that the fee-for-service model is as good as dead, and the future financial success of their facilities will be directly tied to their ability to achieve, maintain, and report positive patient outcomes. Doing this effectively requires accurate and actionable data.
“Data is critical to maximizing value-based reimbursement, but it can be overwhelming,” said Dr. Christopher Stanley, VP of Care Management at Catholic Health Initiatives during a value-based reimbursement panel discussion hosted by McKesson. “The challenge is turning that data into information and knowledge that can drive performance and improve care.”
For many, technology will be essential in helping providers make sense (and revenue) out of the massive data stores they have accumulated. The key is to ensure every IT investment enhances the overall efficiency and transparency of data-driven processes.
“Providers need to be more pragmatic in an era of value-based reimbursement,” says Larry Yuhasz, Director of Strategy and Business Development at Truven Health Analytics. “Every IT investment they make must have an ROI roadmap. Revenue will be driven by meeting key patient outcome criteria and through effective care coordination. Business intelligence tools can give providers the visibility to know if they are on the right track.”
The demand for actionable data is so overwhelming it’s actually impacting health providers at an organizational level. “I think the role of the hospital CIO is changing in light of this new breed of data,” says Gene Thomas, VP and CIO of Memorial Hospital in Gulfport, MS. “My job used to be very network and systems focused. Now, I’m charged with providing clinicians with the best information to improve outcomes.”
Terry Boch, SVP of Sales and Marketing at Wellcentive also sees the transformative effect data demands are having on healthcare providers. “We’ve seen an accelerated rate of buying behavior around population health management solutions,” she says. “And the buyers aren’t just CIOs or CMIOs anymore. Many provider organizations are creating new job titles and departments that are dedicated to maximizing data visibility and value. For example, CHRISTUS Health now has a SVP of Population Health Management on its staff.”
HIMSS14 even provided a glimpse of what the future may hold as providers move down the path of evidence-based medicine. The conference provided attendees with the opportunity to tour nearby Nemours Children’s Hospital, part of Lake Nona Medical City — a 600-acre cluster dedicated to biomedical science and research. The hospital opened its doors in October 2012 and was built from the ground-up to be a “hospital of tomorrow,” meaning it incorporates an evidence-based design focused on improving outcomes. Nemours is one of the few HIMSS Analytics Stage 7 Hospitals in the country and features a robust fiber optic network as its technology backbone, a centralized Epic EHR, a patient portal, and a Clinical Logistics Command Center (CLCC). The CLCC provides Nemours employees with real-time visibility into patient conditions by aggregating and displaying data from a variety of sources including patient bedside monitors, the EHR, and mobile alert systems.
The fiber network that provides the communications foundation for Nemours also extends into the residential communities at Lake Nona, providing physicians who live in the development with lossless access to health data (including medical images) from home. Furthermore, fiber-wired homes provide a seamless way for Lake Nona residents to transmit personal wellness data (e.g. weight, blood-pressure, glucose levels captured from remote monitoring devices) back to Nemours.
OTHER HIMSS14 OBSERVATIONS