Precision Medicine in 2017? Not So Fast…

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As we head into HIMSS 2017, the movement toward precision medicine is at the top of the agenda. The idea of using data to customize care for patients is not new; however, with the passage of the 21st Century Cures Act late in 2016, what was once a far-off dream now seems closer to reality.

But are we really that close? Unfortunately, the answer is no, unless we address the key barriers to success: interoperability and cybersecurity.

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Election 2016: Get Ready for a Healthcare Revolution

whitehouseFor over a year, the US has spent much of its time wondering who would be the next Commander-in-Chief, and what the implications would be with a Hillary Clinton or a Donald Trump presidency. Now that we have our answer – that Donald Trump will be leading the nation for at least the next four years – people across all industries are wondering how a new administration will impact their business.

What exactly will this new administration mean for healthcare IT? The space is relatively bipartisan. People on both sides of the aisle realize that technology can enable better patient care in a cost-effective way and has the ability to be far-reaching, providing better care options to those in rural areas. But there’s no doubt that the most recent election will drive some changes in 2017.

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A Ray of Hope from Washington? Don’t Rush Meaningful Use

52107I was very pleased to see that U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander is recommending the delay for Stage 3 of Meaningful Use, since it would drive the entire system to its knees. We all agree that the industry needed to change. This has been a bi-partisan initiative that started with President Bush and his appointment of David Brailer as the National Health Information Technology Coordinator back in 2004. For the past decade, this effort has been continued by the Meaningful Use program under the ONC.

I am not criticizing the initial goals of Meaningful Use (Stage 1 – Data Aggregation & Data Access; Stage 2 – Healthcare Information Exchange and Care Coordination; and Stage 3 – Outcomes Improvement). Rather, my extreme disappointment is directed to the fact that we did not pay attention to the first pillar – Data Aggregation and Data Access – to achieve outcomes improvement, which cannot be accomplished without clear and aggressive guidelines on interoperability requirements. Instead, the effort was directed to the implementation of EHRs for data entry, which created silos around few vendors. Of course, the consolidation and collaboration of healthcare providers that resulted from the Affordable Care Act (ACA) exposed the failures of Stages 1 and 2 around interoperability.

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Why 2015 is the Worst Time to be a Physician

With the ONC’s recent release of their 10-year interoperability vision, it might seem like the industry is starting to make things easier for clinicians. In reality, 2015 is starting off to be one of the worst times ever to be a physician. Interoperability is a critical issue to support a transition from fee-for-service to value-based care. Physicians will eventually be reimbursed around their ability to impact clinical outcomes, so the need for clinically relevant information at their fingertips is mission critical.

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The Healthcare Dinner Party

WineIt may not be obvious, but the healthcare industry has been preparing for an enormous dinner party. Over the last several years, innovation vendors like AirStrip have been adding ingredients to our fridges and pantries based on numerous requests from customers. Metaphorically, this would be just about anything you can imagine that will transform clinical collaboration. At this point, companies can support a wide variety of different use cases across the continuum of care. However, the next phase is for healthcare industry to sit down at the table since it has been set up already for the big dinner party. The table and the settings are the EMRs, EHRs, medical device companies, among others. If we keep replacing them we will starve to death. Now, we need to spend more time figuring out what exactly the healthcare providers are trying to cook – getting to know their specific use cases by clinical service lines and working backwards with the ingredients that already exist, rather than waiting for food to appear magically at the table.

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Transformation in 2015: Focusing Technology on the Patient

We are currently experiencing the biggest transformation in healthcare ever. Technology plays a significant role as an enabler of this transformation, but will not drive it alone. Improving patient care and driving toward patient engagement are crucial goals in this next phase of the healthcare industry. To make adoption ubiquitous and implementation effective, there are several things we should focus on as we dive into 2015:

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Cerner/Siemens and Blue Shield/Blue Cross: What Happens Next?

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The industry is buzzing over the news that Cerner is buying the health information technology business unit of Siemens. The Siemens acquisition is the most recent high-profile example of consolidation that is taking place in all sectors of healthcare.

The consolidation trend is not new, of course. Providers reacted first, by aligning as Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) and clinical integration (CI) networks during the past five years. Then the passing of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) accelerated the need for collaboration, forcing providers to acquire additional acute care and post-acute care facilities as well as physicians’ offices. This consolidation trend was the first to expose the obvious lack of interoperability amongst vendors.

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