Last month, I had the pleasure of travelling to Orlando, Florida for the HIMSS ‘22 conference. And HIMSS did not disappoint! I admittedly had high expectations, based on my colleague, Doug Rubino’s takeaways from previous events. That said, I was unprepared for how absolutely massive the venue was, the number of attendees, and the incredible speakers and programs provided. In today’s post to the DataMotion Blog, I’ll share a few takeaways from the event, including some of the amazing strides the healthcare industry has made, where we are now, and where we could be (sooner than we think!).
“Stop Talking, Start Doing.”
Tuesday morning (my first full day of HIMSS ‘22) got off to a strong start with Ben Sherwood, former Co-chairman of Disney Media Networks and President of Disney-ABC Television Group, getting our attention by quoting Walt Disney, and advising us to “stop talking, start doing.”
The session concluded on a memorable note as well, with Mr. Sherwood quoting the late film director Mike Nichols, “unlock the secret of every success: only connect.” These words struck a chord with me. Aside from connecting with my peers in the Health Information Technology (Health IT) space, my goal at HIMSS was to learn as much as possible about how DataMotion’s secure messaging platform can help ONLY CONNECT (see what I did there?) payors and providers securely, and how healthcare is leveraging technology to make a real difference in 2022 and beyond.
Powerful, Meaningful, Automated
The lion’s share of my time during day one was educational, and predominantly focused on secure communications and interoperability (e.g. closed-loop messages and asynchronous communications). It quickly became apparent to me that not only were we, as a country, finally adopting technology within healthcare but we’re actually using it to help save lives – further proving Meaningful Use. A few examples that resonated with me:
- A hospital system in the Virginia/D.C. area was able to cut 2 minutes, 25 seconds off code blue response times. That is an immediate life-saving impact! Leveraging a secure messaging platform, this new workflow interfaces with their Electronic Medical Record system (EMR) and the background logic identifies where the secure message needs to go.
- The automation of post-operation patient care. Providers are able to read a patient’s medical record outside of the hospital environment, as well as the data that the patient supplies, using an internet connection device (for example, an Apple Watch). The device can trigger an event to the appropriate hospital staff, sending secure messages to alert providers to an abnormal change in the patient’s health. An example of this is the device sending three-plus alerts to the hospital, indicating that the patient is hypertensive.
These technological changes were accurately described as powerful, meaningful, and automated.
Learning about how our nation exchanges electronic protected health information (ePHI) is important to me, and as an accredited Health Information Service Provider (HISP), to DataMotion. It was informative to see how clinical data is handled today, as well as what the future of ePHI exchange looks like. For instance, the Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement (TEFCA) is working on a medical record standardization that will (hopefully) solve interoperability issues in the upcoming years.
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It was also exciting to see how the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) is working on this type of standardization through the concept of a Qualified Health Information Network (QHIN). A QHIN is defined as a “network of organizations working together to share data. QHINs will connect directly to each other to ensure interoperability between the networks they represent.” Requiring all QHINs to go through the correct certification process and follow national cybersecurity requirements will be an important component in protecting the health information of patients and policyholders.
On top of being able to demonstrate a return on investment, leveraging existing clinical protocols and interfaces like Consolidated Clinical Document Architecture (C-CDA) and Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) will be key in the success of all QHINs. But introducing more standard data types, such as a PDF, will help bridge the gap between payors and providers. Luckily, as a HISP, DataMotion is payload agnostic and can transmit any type of data securely to a trusted endpoint.
In short, flexibility as the technological landscape of interoperability changes over the next five years is extremely important.
Building and Empowering the Healthcare Workforce
Day two of HIMSS set the tone and focus around strengthening and building our healthcare workforce, featuring an experienced panel moderated by award-winning 60 Minutes correspondent Scott Pelley. According to the panel, given the dramatic change in the healthcare landscape over the past couple of years, it’s important to think about the following questions:
- What brought the workforce into the market?
- What is driving them away?
- How can we make this industry enticing for the future?
One question proposed to a medical director on the panel was “when is the last time you slept?” and the unfortunate answer was, “honestly, I don’t remember.” The fact this question was even asked, and answered as it was, is incredibly telling about the industry today.
The above question leads me to the overarching message, which is, how can we simplify the hard work of a caregiver by leveraging data and technology? Simplifying and securing our digital workflows empowers our doctors and nurses to not only service more patients, but be more proactive about health, rather than reactive. Making care easier has a domino effect on patient outcomes. Happy caregivers lead to healthy and happy patients – it’s as simple as that!
Leveraging Data and a (Positive) Disruption
Leveraging data to improve patient outcomes is a logical next step on how we can empower our caregivers. But this is only one part of the equation. By empowering caregivers, and better understanding patient data, providers can potentially save lives, and prolong the quality of those lives saved. To this end, I want to share a couple of sessions that filled me with awe and inspiration.
I attended a truly memorable session hosted by Microsoft, where the speakers discussed leveraging FHIR to help consolidate unstructured data sources (with community consensus). The goal of this initiative is to drastically reduce the time it takes to diagnose rare diseases. And the change is already materializing. By leveraging this new “text analytics for healthcare engine” diagnoses of rare diseases are going from five years on average to approximately 5 weeks – which could significantly increase the patient’s life expectancy, and the quality of that life.
Data is, and will continue to be, a huge driver in how the healthcare industry cares for members and patients. During their presentation, one health insurance payor stated that their biggest asset is their data. They spoke about how the line between payor and provider is blurring and moving to more of a “Pay-vider” model. We, as a technology company, can talk about things like the impact on how we transmit data, the type of data that’s being transmitted, and the format in which this data can be ingested. But in the end, it’s all about patient care. If we make technology changes and it doesn’t affect how we care for our patients and members, then it’s not worth changing.
I’ll end this blog entry with another inspiring quote from Ben Sherwood’s opening keynote, “…I believe that if you want to achieve what you want to achieve, if you want to be a leader in a disrupted time, connection is the thing that’s going to get you the farthest.” If you would like to connect to discuss how DataMotion can help your organization achieve its goals and better connect with patients and policyholders, please feel free to set aside some time to chat. You can also reach out to our team of security experts.
I’m already making plans for next year’s HIMSS! And in the meantime, let’s help you connect…securely. 🙂