HIMSS 2016 was a whirlwind of activity, from the opening session to the closing remarks. Not surprisingly, Las Vegas as the host city only added to the usual excitement. With conference activities sprinkled among five levels in the Sands Expo Center, the show was a little tricky to navigate; on more than one occasion what seemed like a brief walk between venues took much more time than expected. But, the real highlights were associated with the hot topics at the show. We’ll highlight three in this blog.
- Population Health Management (PHM) – The term was everywhere and even those not directly in the PHM business had an “angle” to make them seem relevant and part of this dialog. EMR / EHR vendors were perhaps the loudest voices on this topic promising to expand their reach from simple information sharing systems to full risk management platforms. Whether this approach works or not, time will tell. What we do know is that their entry in this market elevated the noise on the subject and maybe even confused some.
Additionally, it seems there are two key audiences for PHM: innovators that jumped into the market years ago and now need additional capabilities to enhance their current systems or vendor versus those newer to the market seeking to understand the real meaning of the term as they develop their own strategies. The most popular question at our booth was,” tell me about your population health solution, why and how it works?” Fortunately, we had two of eQHealth’s finest on tap to address that very topic.
- Patient Engagement – According to Accenture Consulting, consumers are leading the way and driving the digital care experience with greater use of digital tools and electronic health records. Plus, consumers are adapting to health mobile apps and wearables (we all know people with Fitbits® or similar personal health information tracking devices) and accessing their health records online to keep track of lab results and to share with their clinicians too. It makes sending a health record much easier than in the past. Look closer, you will find that while consumers are interested in engagement and digital access to their health information there are some caveats. Consumers overwhelmingly (more than 90%) do not believe that their employers, the government, or retail clinics should have access to their health records.
The opportunity and challenge for healthcare vendors seeking to engage patients is to build in a capability for consumers to access their records from smart phones, tablets and PCs in a seamless, easy-to-access and easy-to-use method. People may not use a provider portal, but more and more are choosing to use phone apps.
- Security – No surprise that this is a hot topic at HIMSS since 2015 set a new record for data breeches. According to the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) under the department of the U.S. department of Health and Human Services, there were 253 healthcare data breeches that affected 500 individuals or more with a combined loss of over 112 million records. With that many affected, it would be criminal not to address the topic at the largest healthcare technology focused event on the planet.
Unfortunately, many industry pundits predict 2016 will also be an active year and from the news articles on the topic since the beginning of the year, seems their predictions are correct. Some even observe that security breech trends suggest healthcare information is deemed more attractive than credit card data, as encryption and chip technology are making it even harder to access financial data.
When we hear the stories of healthcare data breeches at hospitals, insurers and other organizations, many of us think that the databases are under attack. Interestingly, there are reports that the cause of the data leaks are less about sophisticated hacking schemes and instead, are more often the result of careless actions of personnel or poor practices related to transmittal and data storage. New laws in some states are mandating that personal health information must be encrypted. This seems obvious; of course the future for healthcare organizations has to include the very best safety standards as those applied to financial data. Unfortunately, that seems a little out of reach for now.
In closing, the list of interesting topics from HIMSS 2016 is far longer than we can post here, but these three were top of the list from our team that attended the show. Have your own ideas about what was most interesting to you at HIMSS or interested in learning how eQHealth can address each of these topics? Send us a message.