This week marks my 22nd HIMSS Conference. Each year, the industry comes together to highlight our latest and greatest achievements, discuss how to overcome the latest regulatory challenges and, in general, brainstorm how to improve healthcare. After two decades, we’re still working out this last part. There’s no easy solution to this, but I think there are two key pieces we should be focusing on – not just this week, but as the industry continues to evolve.
The first piece is interoperability. Hospitals and health systems have spent huge amounts of money on technology investments. From EMRs to best-in-breed solutions, hospitals need to make the most of what they already have in place and make them work together. This conversation is nothing new to the industry, but making it a reality is a must. As resources have become slimmer and little money is left to invest in overhauling systems, we need to find new models that revolutionize how to leverage the existing infrastructure. By integrating data and creating interfaces that provide access across data sources, clinicians are able to get at the underlying data across systems and have an overall view of patient history and condition.
This kind of access leads to the second important piece to focus on: improving clinical decision support. The changes that hospitals and health systems make need to focus on the patient at the center of each of their decisions. Implementing technology that provides enhanced access to data and enables care teams to intervene more quickly can ultimately improve patient care. This approach also enables the industry to become more proactive with data – preventing care issues from escalating – rather than reactively addressing concerns. This further helps the industry by creating a way to balance the shortage of physicians.
Getting deeper into the data to support clinical decision making requires significant industry innovation. It requires going to the source – talking to those that work with patients and know what more needs to be integrated to provide the full picture view required to improve care. Partnerships between vendors and hospitals, health systems and academic institutions will be the industry’s next phase.
The healthcare industry has come a long way since my first HIMSS appearance, but we still have quite a ways to go. I’m excited to be a part of this transformation as we make our way to putting the patient back at the center of care.