A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend my first Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Global Conference & Exhibition. Professionals, from all over the world and within all sectors of the healthcare spectrum, converged in Orlando – from physicians and healthcare executives, to vendors and policymakers. I went in starry-eyed and full of excitement as the annual conference unfolded its keynotes, presentations, products, and people. For me, it was non-stop activity throughout the event but an eye-opening, memorable experience. It certainly made a lasting impression (and I’m not only referring to the physical impact it had, with almost 100,000 steps taken).
There was definitely plenty to consider, based on the grandiose size of the HIMSS 2019 event. And, while it was a challenge to filter through everything there, the usual “it” topics on blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning were present, shifting the angle away from pilot concepts to actually implemented applications. But, three key themes emerged as big take-aways for the future of healthcare, being on the cusp of real dramatic change.
Interoperability and Connectivity
Timely in setting the atmosphere for the conference, two proposals were released on Monday, February 11th, by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) supporting electronic health record (EHR) interoperability. One of the opening keynote speakers, Seema Verma, CMS Administrator, mentioned that the U.S. government already “made the investment and [it was] up to the private sector to take the next step” to more patient-centered initiatives through better health data exchange. It seemed there was positive feedback from health IT leaders at the conference, but the foundational importance of interoperability was very evident throughout the exhibit. All technologies need to connect efficiently, for patients’ journeys to be seen holistically and not in fragments.
Patient Engagement and Experience
Health data exchange at the provider level is only a small piece to the bigger information puzzle. Utilizing digital technology, biometrics, medical device-generated data, patient-generated feedback, population health data, and other social determinants of health (SDOH) need to be liquid, actionable, and connected, so that providers can make more personalized, informed decisions for patients.
Consumerism is continuing to rise in healthcare. Patients are more connected today than before and are taking charge of their health, with quality and cost in mind. And, they’re demanding transparency and information access from anywhere and at any time. It has dramatically changed perspectives in the industry to a more patient-centric approach, which I was able to see at HIMSS clearly. Value-based care platforms, non-traditional healthcare settings and diagnostics (such as telemedicine) and genomic capabilities put patients at the center of healthcare, engaging them more and improving better health outcomes. To further support patient centricity, policymakers mandated open application programming interfaces (APIs), increasing patient data access and price transparency for patients.
With a rallying cry for increased data sharing and open accessibility, the cloud has taken on new importance in healthcare, as seen by Google, Microsoft, and Amazon at HIMSS19. And, as advanced, digital-based technologies like these grow, more data will be integrated and become available between different healthcare organizations and across the whole spectrum, at a larger scale. Inevitably, this will open the door to amplified risks and threats. Technologies may support improvement in interoperability and patient experience, but for them to make a real impact, the healthcare industry needs to be cyber-ready and fully prepared with robust cybersecurity strategies and programs. They need to ensure all data and endpoint platforms are safe and secure.
As my life slowly returns to normal, I’m able to look back at the moment that captured the entire experience – one of the final keynote sessions. Susan DeVore commenced the conference in the most befitting way, saying that, “we have a higher calling; a higher imperative to heal the U.S. healthcare system.” And, she’s right. I may not be making a direct impact on patients’ lives as a practicing physician (which my younger self aspired to be growing up). But, I have left HIMSS19 feeling more inspired and empowered to do more through my current role at Konica Minolta; to help the future of the healthcare ecosystem, even if indirectly.
Konica Minolta is part of the healthcare imperative and is committed to delivering innovative, dynamic technologies that enable providers and patients for an improved continuum of care. We are all aiming towards the same ultimate goal – providing a more personalized, connected patient experience for better health outcomes. It fuels our passion for making a difference. Experience for yourself the value Konica Minolta brings, in creating better patient experiences and better delivery of care. Take the next step with our healthcare technologies here.