Healthcare is rapidly evolving, and more than ever, hospitals are under extreme pressure to continuously identify ways to improve performance and justify every expense. In this type of environment, technological innovation alone will not prove sufficient. Instead, making sure technology is successfully implemented and processes are streamlined to ensure adoption and maximize value becomes the currency of improvement.
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.
Bringing mobility into clinical practice across the care continuum is an integral part of improving care, reducing readmissions and increasing patient engagement and satisfaction. From giving clinicians outside the hospital access to patient data so clinical decision making isn’t delayed, to addressing patient needs at home to avoid an emergency room or office visit, mobility offers the flexibility to meet today’s healthcare demands. For both the clinician and the patient, user experience is a critical factor that determines the success of a mobile strategy.
As we gear up for HIMSS at the end of this month, we tend to think back to who has been dominating the healthcare conversations over the past several years. The answer is obvious: EMR vendors. Meaningful Use guidelines have been driving towards the adoption of EMRs and encouraging clinicians to adopt technologies to enhance patient care. But these tools are transactional, not transformative. For an industry that is cutting edge in so many ways, we’ve struggled to successfully crack the code with informational technology. Customers are constantly telling me that we need to find ways to make the data work for us, to improve healthcare.
As new technologies and the BYOD trend have worked their way into hospitals and health systems, we’ve begun to find patterns in what is necessary to launch successful programs. The key? Ease of use for clinicians and clear benefits to patient care.
It’s hard to remember a time when Big Data wasn’t all the rage; it’s harder still to believe that we’ve barely reached the tip of the iceberg with its potential. The healthcare industry has made strides with managing the patient data it’s collecting, yet there’s still so much more that both providers and their vendor partners can be doing to leverage Big Data to improve patient care. While we’ve established a foothold, here’s where I think we’re heading next year.
All the mainstream chatter and media coverage around healthcare this year covers up the fact that there is little real action and few success stories to point to. Expect 2014 to be the year that the industry gets taken to task on several key issues:
- On risk – The big headline is going to be the relative lack of traction for risk-based models. For all the talk about the benefits, the incentive is still in place for hospital systems to continue to leverage or create structural advantage in marketplaces – allowing them to pass along rates to payers and protect margins. This shift in models will not happen until hospitals and health systems have maxed out their OPEX savings and consumers are outraged enough with insurance costs to run to Kaiser-like models. Continue reading