Three Hot Digital Healthcare Topics from the 2016 HIMSS Conference and Exhibition

March 9, 2016

Digital innovation is changing the game across many industries, and the Healthcare industry is no exception. Government regulation, payment reform, and rising consumer expectations have placed significant pressure on healthcare organizations to deliver better patient outcomes, while significantly reducing the cost of care. With the healthcare industry at an inflection point, providers are turning to digital technologies to help support new value-based care models.

Each year, the HIMSS Conference & Exhibition provides a glimpse into the future of healthcare and the role of IT. This year’s event brought together 40,000+ health IT professionals, clinicians, executives, and thought leaders from around the world to discuss the key trends and drivers shaping the industry’s direction.

Here is a breakdown of some of the hot topics dominating the conversation at this year’s event:

Patient Engagement – As consumers take a more active role in managing their health, they are demanding the same level of convenience, transparency, and access from healthcare organizations they receive in consumer interactions across other industries (e.g. banking, retail). In order to reinvent the healthcare consumer experience and keep the pace with industry peers, healthcare CIOs are investing in technology to improve population health disparities via digital patient-provider engagement tools. Results of the 2016 HIMSS Connected Health Survey show 52% of hospitals are already using three or more connected health technologies,1 such as mobile optimized patient portals, apps for patient education, and remote patient monitoring to drive engagement.

At the same time, organizations continue to face challenges around secure sharing of health data with patients via online/mobile applications due to strict industry regulation and the prevalence of siloed, legacy systems making it difficult for providers to enable access to relevant data. With the success of patient engagement initiatives banking on the ability of healthcare organizations to securely share data with patients when and where they need it, many healthcare providers are turning to APIs to accelerate their digital initiatives and power patient facing applications. A solid API foundation not only helps simplify authentication and identity management to securely manage high volumes of users, but also helps these organizations overcome some of the key challenges associated with sharing patient data by enabling connectivity with existing systems and supporting healthcare industry standards (e.g. FHIR).

With the patient engagement movement showing no signs of slowing down, the future will rely heavily on APIs to accelerate digital initiatives. The next wave of digital patient engagement tools is expected to include solutions to manage patient generated health data (e.g. wearable tech), concierge telehealth services, and predictive analytics tools designed to deliver actionable insights to healthcare providers so they can proactively manage the health of their patient population.

Interoperability – Always a hot topic in healthcare IT, interoperability challenges today are no longer just about connecting and securing data as it flows across devices and systems within a single hospital. Today, providers are working to securely exchange data across multiple --often non-affiliated healthcare providers-- in order to improve care coordination.

Interoperability took center stage at the event this year with five of the largest private U.S. health systems and vendors, providing 90 percent of electronic health records to U.S. hospitals, pledging to enable wider consumer access to health data, avoid information blocking, and adopt standardized APIs to facilitate patient data access. While there is still much to be done across the industry in order to facilitate interoperability across the breadth of devices, systems, and applications used to manage a patient’s health, the agreement is a solid step toward industry wide adoption of federally recognized healthcare standards.

Integration is a barrier to successful implementation of big data initiatives in healthcare, such as population health management. The majority of patients have a digital health footprint that spans across multiple providers and hundreds of proprietary IT systems, making it difficult to enable access to the data needed to deliver a comprehensive patient view and enable proactive care management.

As the industry embraces a standards-based approach and advances in digital enablement technology, such as B2B/EDI and API integration, facilitate automation, integration and the secure exchange of protected health information throughout the healthcare ecosystem, the industry is likely to begin reaping the anticipated benefits of population health management in the form of improved clinical and financial outcomes.

Cybersecurity- With all of the emphasis this year on healthcare organizations sharing data – within their ecosystem, with non-affiliated providers, and with patients, it is tough to imagine that Cybersecurity would be left out of the conversation this year. Especially if you consider in 2015 alone, data breaches in healthcare totaled over 112 million records in the U.S.2

With an increased burden on healthcare CIOs and CISOs to manage an unprecedented amount of data as the industry prepares for the next phase of digitization, cybersecurity will remain top of mind for health IT leaders who will need to ensure that their infrastructure is equipped to tackle new data challenges in an increasingly mobile, collaborative care environment.

Stay tuned as we follow these and other digital transformation trends in healthcare in future blog posts.

 

12016 HIMSS Connected Health Survey http://www.himss.org/2016-connected-health-survey

2Forbes, Dec 2015 http://www.forbes.com/sites/danmunro/2015/12/31/data-breaches-in-healthcare-total-over-112-million-records-in-2015/#79c1af997fd5

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