This year at HIMSS, there was certainly no shortage of innovative technology on display, but what we were most impressed by was the overarching focus on the people served by that technology. The key motivator in the industry, spurring all of these companies to continue moving forward and turning their ideas into action, is a common commitment to improving patient care. CMS announced the launch of its MyHealthEData initiative. Amazon, Apple, and Lyft are all making a solid entrance into healthcare. And in his keynote address, Eric Schmidt, former Google CEO, implored the event’s 40,000 attendees to let go of past operational processes and move—no, make that run—to the cloud. From the government to the private sector, the message was the same—let’s put patients first.
Here are a few of the top trends coming out of HIMSS that highlight the focus on patient outcomes and point to the potential for high-impact solutions in coming years:
- Interoperability: Interoperability was one of the conference’s core education topics going into HIMSS and proved a consistent theme throughout between various vendor announcements and CMS’s reveal of plans to overhaul meaningful use. HIMSS defines interoperability as “the extent to which systems and devices can exchange data, and interpret that shared data.” Our goal at CarePort is to create connections across the care continuum—from when the patient arrives at the hospital to discharge to stays in post-acute facilities and the return to home. Like us, a number of companies at HIMSS were developing technology that seamlessly integrates with existing systems.
- Data Sharing: Although data sharing can be a sensitive topic for companies dealing with patient information—as evidenced by the equally strong emphasis on cybersecurity at HIMSS—the transition to value-based care has created a similar mandate to the one around interoperability. Seema Verma’s presentation made it clear that we are entering a new era of data sharing and transparency. The MyHealthEData initiative, which puts patients’ data in their hands and facilitates easy sharing of data with providers, was just one of many indicators of this trend. When we were developing CarePort Guide, which is a tool that facilitates selection of quality post-acute care, it was really important to us to provide transparency not just to providers, but also to patients and their families. Transparency is a hallmark of our solutions and a driving force behind our ongoing product innovation.
- Streamlining EHR Technology: Today, there are approximately 600 EHR solutions on the market. The goal of interoperability can seem unachievable when looking at that number. However, conversations buzzing through HIMSS seemed to point to a future where fewer EHR vendors survive, and with CMS’s requirement for health organizations to adopt EHR systems established in 2015 or newer, more systems will slowly sunset. This will help streamline the workflows being transferred between EHR technologies and other digital health solutions, improving provider transparency and patient outcomes. In addition, many health tech companies are creating EHR-agnostic solutions, which is what we’ve done at CarePort.
- Jumping Up to the Cloud: A related, interesting trend that’s not necessarily new but was certainly a major conversation topic at the show this year is the move to the cloud. As Eric Schmidt noted, in general healthcare has been slower to adopt cloud technology than other industries, despite the promise of cloud-based solutions that streamline data, make it more accessible to anyone, anywhere, and make interoperability possible. When we founded CarePort, there was a lot of skepticism about our ability to collect data from post-acutes, but because these facilities use cloud-based EHRs, connecting with them is almost as simple as flipping a switch, and our customers and their patients reap huge benefits from the flow of information that results.
- Telehealth: One final trend that is slightly more peripheral to our work here at CarePort, but nonetheless a topic of interest in healthcare, is the rise of telehealth. Up until a few years ago, most conversations about telehealth were more conceptual than practical. Today, however, almost every digital health company is integrating or working to implement some form of telehealth technology – from healthcare networks to insurance providers to EHR vendors. In his telehealth policy briefing, telehealth vendor American Well’s CEO noted there has been a significant increase of telehealth technology incorporated in post-acute care. While adoption still faces the barrier of uncertain provider reimbursement, many executives believe that telehealth has the potential help post-acute facilities succeed in both clinical and financial terms as preventing readmissions and following patients across multiple care settings become top priorities.
Reflecting on these trends in particular and HIMSS as a whole, it seems that we may be reaching a tipping point where technology is being deployed strategically and widely enough to make real and meaningful changes to care. What we need to think about as an industry is how we continue to bring ideas and innovation to fruition while always keeping the goal of improved patient care at the forefront.
In the post-acute care space, there is plenty of opportunity for companies like CarePort Health to make a positive impact on patient care and outcomes. We have developed solutions that bridge the gaps between acute and post-acute care so providers can better manage their patients’ care, even after they’re discharged from the hospital. It’s important for us moving forward that the trends we discussed at the show continue to perpetuate themselves in impactful ways, and for us to identify where we can best leverage these tools to impact outcomes on a broad scale.
What did you take away from HIMSS this year? Share your perspective below!
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