By Julie Campbell, Vice President

Last week, almost 30,000 people came to Orlando to reimagine healthcare at the HIMSS Global Conference. Here it is practically impossible for any two people to have the same experience given the breadth of opportunities: hundreds of in-person and digital education sessions, over 1,000 exhibitors, and networking happening in every corner. However, I will attempt to give you a taste of what I learned.

This year’s theme was “Reimagine Health”. As Mayo Clinic CIO Cris Ross stated in the opening keynote, we must completely reimagine how to provide exceptional care around the world – not by patching it up or fiddling at the edges, but by aspiring to more cures, more hope, and more healing. Or as Ben Sherwood – former co-chair of Disney Media Networks and President of Disney/ABC Television – put it, we need to dare greatly. The existing medical model is at its breaking point, and we need to shift the paradigm: 

  • Patients used to come to healthcare organizations to seek care, but now healthcare organizations need to seek out the consumers in order to deliver care at the optimal time and place. 
  • There used to be a clear line dividing the healthcare vendors and providers. However, per Jonathan Bush of Zus Health, more and more vendors are learning how to deliver great care and providers are learning how to “sling code”. 

As always, we need to take the lofty vision to reimagine health and turn it into something executable. And I believe that establishing a glossary of terms is critical to starting any strategy or action plan. Here are some of the buzzwords that I heard over and over again last week:

 

Innovation

At Healthbox, we define innovation as “invention adopted”. Invention – meaning it is emerging technology that has transformational qualities. Adoption – meaning it has been applied and effectively driven change.

The word innovation was everywhere while at HIMSS22. In fact, right after I landed in Orlando, I had the opportunity to go on a tour of Lake Nona, a 60,000 person community that was built specifically with innovation at the heart of it. It has homes that were completely redesigned to improve wellness. It has an accelerator that tests health and wellness solutions enabled by 5G technology. It has a hotel billed as the most technologically advanced hotel in the world. 

I also had the opportunity to lead an abbreviated workshop for nurses who were interested in becoming innovators themselves. They were full of ideas on how to improve healthcare, but they lacked the foundation and resources to get started. My critical takeaway from the week is that innovation within a test community, in an isolated corporate innovation program, or even on the exhibit floor is only the beginning. Innovation isn’t a bill of goods or a purchasable asset. Real innovation requires intentional strategy and existence in the “wild”. It requires a commitment to our team and funds to be successful.

 

Digital Health

Digital health connects and empowers people and populations to manage health and wellness, augmented by highly accessible and supportive care teams working within flexible, integrated, interoperable, and digitally-enabled care environments that strategically leverage digital tools, technologies and services to transform care delivery.

We finally have a consensus that digital health is a critical investment (99% of health system leaders agree). However, our definition of digital health (see above) has a very broad application of use cases, but too often last week (and in years proceeding), I heard the terms telehealth and digital health getting conflated. Telehealth on its own is not a digital strategy. Over the last two years, many health systems focused too specifically on a telehealth strategy. As CMS signals uncertainty around future reimbursement models, these health systems are finding that their limited digital connections with their patient populations have an unstable foundation.

During the executive summit, a panel of three Chief Digital Officers was asked what the most important technology considerations are to improve the patient journey, and their answers were: a fast and clean governance structure, CRM and data segmentation capabilities, interoperability across technologies, impactful automation, and improved user experience. These considerations align very well with the key components of a mature digital ecosystem as detailed by the Digital Health Indicator: governance & workforce, interoperability, predictive analytics, and person-enabled health. And these concepts showed up consistently throughout the week.

 

Governance and Workforce

Governance and Workforce strategies guide implementation of digital health initiatives and ensure that the policy and regulatory environment guards privacy, security, and accountability. 

Governance shouldn’t be overlooked because it is critical to fast and clean decision making. However, the healthcare workforce crisis was one of the most common themes this year. The Wednesday keynote led by 60 Minutes correspondent Scott Pelley reinforced the upcoming cliff we are facing. “Work in healthcare has now become a job. It used to be a calling,” Pelley said. 66% of nurses have said they felt like quitting. 

In addition to the discussion on burnout, many discussed the necessity for diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). DEI isn’t just the right thing to do, but there is a solid business case for inviting people to the table who represent the makeup of America. Diversity is important, but inclusion is the bottom line.

Finally, on the topic of workforce, I heard in multiple conversations about the evolving role of the technology leader (whether that be CIO, CTO, CDO, etc.). The role of the tech leader used to be as an enabler or supporter of change. However, that has completely evolved. An effective technology leader is now a strategist and even a sales person. They are evoking and planning for the operational change required to deliver in this evolving digital world. These changes need to be sold internally to promote adoption.

 

Interoperability

Interoperability makes data accessible by ensuring data standards make data exchange possible in a manner that is private and secure while flowing seamlessly from multiple sources to stakeholders who are approved for access. 

Despite ~90% of hospitals having EHRs, the lack of EHR interoperability is one of the biggest disappointments of the HITECH act. COVID vaccine credential applications are a very relevant, yet seemingly simple, interoperability opportunity that is bringing up exploration into similar use cases for general vaccines and diagnostic test results. And if the existing EHRs don’t invest and innovate quickly in solutions to make interoperability easy, keep an eye on the new “healthcare” players who are ready to innovate in this specific space – Apple, Amazon, Walmart. 

 

Predictive Analytics

Predictive Analytics transform data into information, knowledge and insights to create real-world evidence that informs health decisions. 

The use of AI to enable predictive analytics was common to see on the exhibit floor. It seemed like everyone was offering an AI-supported plan of care with personalization, clinical decision support and predictive analytics to help determine the most effective mix of interventions.  However, specific use cases turned this into a reality.  One particular session talked using SMART on FHIR to enable the identification of undiagnosed chronic kidney disease (CKD) in New York City. Instead of relying only on ICD10 codes, Renalytix and Mount Sinai applied innovative biomarkers and advanced data analytics in combination with electronic health record data to electronically phenotype patients with undiagnosed CKD. This essentially builds an ‘intelligent layer’ on top of traditional EMR systems to optimize existing technology and increase early diagnosis and risk assessment of CKD in especially vulnerable populations. 

 

Person-Enabled Health

Person-Enabled Health supports people and populations to manage their health and wellness informed by their personal values, needs, and unique life circumstances, guided by meaningful connections with provider teams. 

Enabling the patient journey was at the forefront of almost every discussion.  There was discussion about using the term patient vs. consumer – which really are two sides of the same coin.  But it boiled down to one statement from Jefferson Health Chief Digital Officer, Nassar Nazim: as a healthcare organization, you must obsess about patient care.

While the “Triple Aim” was coined in 2008, we are now expanding to the use of the term “Quintuple Aim”, which focuses on advancing health equity. Health equity took center stage during the opening keynote when HIMSS CEO, Hal Wolf, passed on a message from Pope Francis to keep the poor and underserved at the forefront of our efforts to build a better healthcare system. I think that when we reflect on the terms defined above – innovation, digital health, governance & workforce, interoperability, predictive analytics, and person-enabled health – we recognize that each one is critical to advancing global health equity. Solving these large-scale and systemic problems will not be easy. But in the last two years, we have proven as an industry that we can advance quickly. And once we have a solid foundation, we can strive for great things.

To learn more about Healthbox or HIMSS22, contact info@healthbox.com or visit healthbox.com.

HIMSS22 Recap: Reimagining Health with the Leaders of Today

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