Keeping up with (and Getting Ahead of) an Ever-Changing Healthcare Model

At this year’s annual HIMSS conference, a common topic of discussion was around how to continue to bring the technological and medical aspects of healthcare together to evolve, grow and support one another.

Each semester, I share with my Health IT students the many reasons that it is such an exciting time to be in healthcare. As we transition from a volume-based to a value-based incentive model, healthcare is going to look significantly different by 2020. This transformation is no longer a wish, it is no longer an option; it is our collective future. People who were previously one-foot-in and one-foot-out will be fully planted in the value-based healthcare model.

With this shift comes a further emphasis on quality patient care and the placement of the patient at the center of healthcare decisions. From having patients recover, and even receive care in the home, to ensuring clinical data is integrated across a patient’s life, to encouraging preventive care and wellness, physicians are being further incentivized to consider the patient – not the services – first. This is the year we begin to realize, grow and be rewarded for patient centric care.

As part of this patient centric quality evolution, we will all also work to eliminate variability across healthcare. We will help hospitals across the country and globe provide the same level of care as well-known academic medical centers.

We will need to ensure that episodes of care are no longer siloed and that communities work together to make sure information is easily accessible to support clinical decision making.

As we pursue personalized medicine, we need to ensure that our solutions are not ‘one size fits all’ but rather that there is an appropriate solution for every challenge. Different questions often require specific analytic toolsets.

At IBM, three ways we are focused on improving the current state of healthcare – and taking 2015 by the reins – are through optimizing technology, analyzing data and engaging patients:

  • Optimize: The explosive growth in mobility, social engagement and the Internet of Things (IoT) is having a transformative effect on healthcare. This tremendous paradigm shift toward mobile engagement is compelling healthcare organizations to further change their approach to care, resources and operations. Becoming a mobile-enabled enterprise is helping healthcare organizations extend healthcare beyond traditional settings, empowering their workforce with mobility solutions and connecting with individuals on the go.

It is vital for organizations to optimize, protect and transform workflow with mobility solutions to enable more time with patients, be more responsive and improve documentation.

  • Analyze: Analytics provide healthcare organizations with the ability to understand – and even predict with greater confidence – which patients are likely to experience adverse outcomes and require additional care. Whether it’s the onset of chronic disease, risk for readmissions, or response to treatment protocols, analytics can quickly surface insights from massive amounts of data, at the point of care, and help clinicians make evidence-based decisions for their patients.  These types of advanced analytics can improve healthcare decisions, prioritize resources and reduce costs.

Population health management and quality initiatives require predictive insights to implement interventions earlier in the care cycle to improve outcomes. Creating easy-to-use predictive analytics models and solutions to meet the specific needs of different users and skill levels is vital in a space where we are easily overwhelmed with data.

  • Engage: Tremendous movement toward web and mobile access has transformed how, when and where individuals engage in services across every aspect of their lives, including health. That means providers and healthcare systems must connect with individuals in new ways. This will be the year that we begin to extend services beyond traditional healthcare settings. For example, we may let patients complete and report on physical therapy when and where it’s convenient for them, while always ensuring that the data and transactions are secure and protected.

Healthcare is finally applying technologies that other industries have utilized for years and beginning to understand how technology can help with the delivery of better quality and more efficient care. It is an exciting time to be in healthcare!

Dr. Michael S. Weiner, DO MSM MSIST, is the Chief Medical Information Officer at IBM. He is a board-certified internal medicine physician and holds Master’s degrees in management and information systems technology. Previously, he served as the Director of the Military Health System Electronic Health Record Way Ahead Planning Office and is one of only a few physicians ever to have been certified as a Chief Information Officer by the General Services Administration.