When it’s big enough, an event itself can be Big Data. Bring together over 40,000 attendees and over 1,200 leading vendors and the topics presented and discussed serve to spell out the current trends in Healthcare Information.
Last week, many Fresenius team members attended the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Annual Conference in Orlando, and took away 4 key themes: artificial intelligence, precision medicine and patient engagement, interoperability, and cybersecurity and communication.
IBM’s Watson led the way and dominated the discussion on Artificial Intelligence (AI). IBM CEO Ginni Rometty set the stage in her opening keynote address with a bold vision for how Watson can play a revolutionary role in healthcare. Watson has the ability to process tremendous amounts of data—much more than one human can process—and provide clues, hints, and information that can result in new insights. Code-named “moon shot,” this project harkens back to the space age over a generation ago. Several companies positioned , either in the artificial intelligence or cognitive computing space. Companies such as Kore.ai are expanding the ways we interact with conversational AI, taking “chat” to a new level with their platform for chatbots, a computer program designed to simulate conversation.
As a result of government incentives and evolving regulations and needs, many healthcare organizations have adopted some form of Electronic Health Record (EHR) and are generating huge amounts of data. The logical next step, with increasing cost pressures and the shift to value-based care, will be to gain deeper clinical and financial insights from these troves of data—ultimately resulting in improved health outcomes and more efficient healthcare delivery. There were many big data management and data visualizations booths present this year at the conference. AI and Machine learning are exceedingly becoming an integral part of many technology strategies for health delivery systems and Information Technology (IT) companies.
Precision medicine and patient engagement
Beyond population health and care coordination, we observed a new trend focusing on the individual patient at HIMSS ’17. Transition to Value-Based Care is moving beyond aggregate population health management into “mass personalization”. The concept of “average patient” is no longer a viable benchmark. Precision medicine’s premise is to integrate all data about an individual patient and tailor the treatment specific to their needs guided by combined data. The key industry trend this year will be to use analytics, information sharing, and care coordination to tailor outcomes for individual patients.
Precision Medicine by the numbers
- PROVIDERS: Genomic testing in a subgroup of patients suffering from cardiac disease resulted in a 30% reduction in hospital admissions.
- PAYERS: $25 billion annual spending on genetic tests by 2021.
- PATIENTS: 9 out of 10 causes of death are influenced by genetics.
- PHARMA: $7.5 billion will be the size of the pharmacogenomics market by 2017.
- GOVERNMENT: $215 million was President Obama’s precision medicine initiative investment.
Patient engagement, a perennial topic, was highlighted by the Cleveland Clinic’s Adrienne Boissy’s insights on digital engagement—with an interesting twist on the importance of focusing on clinicians and their engagement as a factor for successful patient engagement. Technologies such as HealthLoop provide innovative ways to engage patients through automation, while companies like HealthGrid are finding unique ways to connect with patients where they are.
We also noticed a surge in patient engagement vendors. Patient portals and mobile devices, including wearables, are on the rise as organizations strive to improve communications between patients and providers. Many non-health IT vendors like AT&T, for example, are working towards providing services to support Internet of Things (IoT) applications in healthcare. The efforts seem in germinal stages, but are clearly promising.
Other major topics that dominated the conference were around data sharing and security.
HIMSS ’17 included entire days of presentations on the challenges and opportunities for systems to talk to each other. EHR vendors are supporting specific industry-wide standards for exchanging data, with a goal of linking current and future software across the full spectrum of healthcare activities, including prescribing labs. HIMSS had an interoperability showcase like many prior years with the addition of a simulated hospital environment to showcase data flow. Dialysis units or nephrology practices were clearly missing from the picture.
With the advancement in SMART on FHIR applications and APIs we saw an initial push towards consumer-mediated data exchange. Such an exchange has huge potential to break silos and empower patients by putting them in charge of their own data.
Cybersecurity and communication
All this increase in transactions between systems comes with an even greater need for security, and this was another prevailing theme of the conference. Kevin Mitnick, an ex-hacker, demonstrated various cybersecurity vulnerabilities at the CHIME CIO forum. The recent ransomware events in healthcare have raised anxiety amongst healthcare executives, and paved the way for many vendors in this space. As options for communication between team members, including messaging, are increasing, the need for “secure texting” is coming into the marketplace. There was a decent presence of vendors at the show providing various solutions for the secure communication problem, including texting.
Overall, it was a great meeting this year. There were many educational sessions on cutting-edge topics like block chain, along with traditional transactional management systems. We did not observe one theme emerge as a winner like it would in past years. Our Fresenius attendees are stimulated with new ideas and a growing familiarity with cutting-edge technology. We are anxious to pollinate the learning experience throughout the organization to provide better support to our clinical and business partners as they effectively care for patients in multiple venues.
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