29 HIMSS19 insights, innovations and disruptions

Health IT thought leaders share thoughts on emerging trends and how they will affect healthcare.


Michael Gleeson. Chief Analytics Officer of Arcadia: At HIMSS19, it was apparent that the one-time sugar rush induced by the HITECH Act and Meaningful Use is far behind us. For the first time, our industry didn't desperately try to find the next feeding frenzy. Maybe we have finally accepted the reality that driving outcomes requires a focused, multi-threaded effort. It was also clear that value-based care is maturing, both in the capabilities of healthcare organizations and as a necessary part of the healthcare ecosystem. While the hype may have faded, HIMSS19 showcased some genuinely good solutions that can improve the likelihood of success under risk for a health system—and that’s a good change for our industry.

Scott Herbst. Senior Vice President & General Manager of Availity: Hospital revenue cycle departments have gained greater visibility in recent years as a significant driver of revenue streams. Yet many of these departments continue to face serious challenges in several areas, including workforce, interoperability and EHR optimization. There was a lot of buzz this year about taking revenue cycle management to the next level by harnessing technology and data analytics to help hospitals and health systems track costs and identify opportunities for cost savings, gain efficiencies and optimize financial performance. Elevating the revenue cycle will be key as healthcare transitions to value-based care payment models.

Jonathan Symonds. Chief Marketing Officer of Ayasdi: Addressing clinical variation to address the billions of dollars of waste in our healthcare system today was a hot topic at HIMSS19. Since every hospital is different, each should be using its own patient data to surface both good and bad variation. Machine intelligence can create care process models at exceptional scale and operationalize them through effective adherence measurement—thereby bending the cost curve of healthcare while simultaneously improving patient outcomes. This is healthcare’s best hope for cutting costs and reducing errors.

Janet Dillione. CEO of Bernoulli Health: My biggest takeaway from HIMSS19 was seeing the desire of clinicians to move from reactive to proactive healthcare delivery. Health systems are seeking ways to uncover clinically actionable insights from oceans of real-time and retrospective patient data in order to reduce readmissions, improve patient safety, and better align with value-based care models. Continuous clinical surveillance and other tools that leverage advanced analytics have matured and are being actively applied by clinicians for prediction and clinical decision-making across the enterprise—and even beyond the walls of the hospital.

Harry Soza. CEO of CAREMINDr: My biggest observation from HIMSS19 is a follow-on from a trend that emerged at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) a month earlier: Physicians and payers need to figure out how to deal with the potential avalanche of health data from patients’ Apple Watches and other health-tracking gadgets and gizmos that promise they can share data with healthcare providers. This looming explosion of patient-driven health data resulted in discussions at HIMSS about how physicians need to be empowered with the right technologies if they are going to be the health data “traffic cops.” One way to do this is to leverage technologies such as mobile-enabled remote patient monitoring (RPM) to effectively manage incoming patient-reported data and information and make it actionable. Nearly everyone, including Baby Boomers, already has and uses a smartphone or mobile device. There was a lot of interest among providers and payers at HIMSS about the different ways they can leverage that culturally entrenched technology to encourage mobile-enabled RPM adoption and consistent use.

Rob Barras. Vice President, Health Solutions, CTG: The CMS announcement around interoperability and patient access to data set the tone early at HIMSS19. From that point forward, many of our conversations centered on the analytical demands of value-based care. Provider organizations are starting to understand they may not be as prepared to leverage analytical tools as they need to be.

Cam Deemer. President of DrFirst: This year, HIMSS19’s theme was on the “Champions of Healthcare.” In alignment with that emphasis, we observed less focus on the latest trending healthcare buzzwords, and a greater focus on healthcare being mission-driven. Most of the attendees that we spoke with aren’t focused on technology for technology’s sake, but rather on finding solutions that can make a meaningful difference in improving the quality of care, achieving better outcomes, and enhancing the patient experience. It’s important for clinicians to break through the barriers of redundancy and eliminate information silos through interoperability. It’s refreshing to see the industry as a whole having a renewed focus on reaching the end goal rather than continuing to pursue the next shiny object that may or may not help us to get there.

Derek Pickell. CEO of eMDs: We saw a merging of multiple themes this year—specifically the concern with provider burnout with ongoing regulatory requirements. Interoperability continues to be at the fore, while there is a realization that some recently touted breakthroughs still need practical applications before we’ll see more widespread provider adoption. Then there was the added layer of HHS’s announcement that patient data needs to be more accessible and actionable, which led to significant discussions about how this will be feasible with current EHRs. The undercurrent that could be felt was that all of this additional change will further force providers to bear even more administrative burden. Coming out of HIMSS19, many technology companies are going to be revisiting how they ask providers to engage with their platforms, and then also rethinking how the platforms can be more usable to work within natural provider workflows. The focus will be on the practical use of tactical yet impactful patient data and population health tools that can help providers enjoy their jobs again, while also making their patients healthier.

Dean Smith, MD. Chief Medical Information Officer of GlobalMed: “The future is already here, it’s just not very evenly distributed.” Futurist William Gibson got it right, especially as it relates to telehealth. It was clear at HIMSS19 that virtual care has joined acute/inpatient care and ambulatory/outpatient care as the “third rail” of healthcare. As reimbursement increases, networks improve, and the emphasis on healthcare access and value-based care increases, virtual care will supplant ambulatory care as the second rail of healthcare. Today, patients-as-consumers expect healthcare to be as user-friendly as online banking and e-commerce. A patient’s time spent commuting to certain types of appointments, filling out forms, and sitting in waiting rooms will fast become a thing of the past. Satisfied patients will look back on these once-standard experiences as “remember when” nostalgic moments—rendered obsolete by virtual care.

Scott McFarland. President of HealthBI: It is truly gratifying to see how much attention was paid to social determinants of health at this year's HIMSS. Providers are, by and large, on board with the idea of tackling non-health factors that impede better health outcomes for their patients. Now it's time for the technology sector to step up and equip providers with the care coordination tools to do so.

Julie Mann. Chief Commercial Officer of Holon Solutions: One of the focus areas of HIMSS19 was the user experience and how innovating technology with the clinician top of mind is key to achieving value-based care goals. In years past, overwhelmingly the themes were around population health management, big data and analytics. This year, solutions that empower those solutions were drawing the most attention from leading executives by focusing on removing administrative burden, increasing clinical engagement, and activating analytics. Solutions that are simple and bring contextual insights into the workflow stood out.

Lynn Carroll. Chief of Strategy & Operations, HSBlox: Patient engagement and experience as critical strategies were highlighted at HIMSS19. In a healthcare ecosystem with ever-increasing needs for transparency and individualized care plans, fully integrated patients can become stewards of their own well-being. To do so, patients must be equipped with real-time access to medical and financial information—empowering them to engage in self-management and active participation in healthcare decisions. This drives improved outcomes and helps control costs.

Ben Clark. COO of IDx: Artificial intelligence (AI) in healthcare is clearly here to stay. My takeaway was that those of us in a position to drive its adoption need to carefully consider whether the technologies being introduced for patient care are actually facilitating better outcomes—or just adding cost and noise to the system. Solutions that make sense increase care effectiveness, improve quality, and increase physicians’ ability to practice at the top of their license.

Steve Martin. CEO of IRIS: At this year’s HIMSS19, it was clear that AI and telemedicine are no longer just buzzwords, but real innovations that are leading to new care models to treat old healthcare problems—and patients are the beneficiaries. It’s an exciting time to be in healthcare and to make a difference.

Jorge Miranda. Executive Vice President and Chief Revenue Officer, Lightbeam Health Solutions: There was a lot of talk this year about the tidal wave of data available to today’s health systems and how important it is to get the data right and make it actionable for caregivers. When we talk about quality and cost, it’s about getting not just one, but both, right. The right tools can help ACOs and other risk-bearing entities focus on helping higher-cost patients, while tying financial and quality incentives together. They can identify populations and support physicians with care plan selection. Care managers can then monitor and engage these patients to help them overcome any care plan or social determinants of health obstacles, and prevent unnecessary ED visits or avoidable admissions.

Elizabeth Marshall, MD, MBA. Director of Clinical Analytics of Linguamatics, an IQVIA company: Everywhere you turned at HIMSS19, there was an excited buzz about new AI (artificial intelligence and augmented intelligence) solutions that promise to improve healthcare. There are clinicians who are on the forefront of this new healthcare battlefield, who are cautiously optimistic that there are potential solutions to address the very real, dark cloud of physician burnout looming over their heads. However, we will need to walk before we can run. Augmented intelligence solutions can and will make clinicians’ lives easier; the key is to focus on non-disruptive solutions.

Matt Cox. Chief Marketing Officer, Lumeris: After attending HIMSS19, which was my 15th year at the conference, one thing is clearer than ever before: Change in healthcare requires far more than just technology—especially for a major industry transformation like the shift to value-based care. Yes, we need better technology, AI and predictive models using social determinants of health to improve clinical and financial outcomes, but we also need enhanced collaboration and transparency between providers and payers. We need a new model of care delivery that focuses on the intersection of population health, plan expertise and targeted patient engagement towards improved outcomes. The call for claims data to be available to patients and accelerating FHIR adoption are critical. We need transformation not just from fee-for-service to fee-for-value but, more importantly, we need to focus on keeping patients well instead of treating them when they are sick. After all, at the end of day, healthcare is about patients—and we must continue doing our part behind the scenes to make that vision a reality for patients who deserve better.

Jay Anders. Chief Medical Officer of Medicomp Systems: There was increased interest at HIMSS19 from providers looking to improve the usability of their existing EHRs for physicians. While it has been happening for several years, the EHR dissatisfaction conversation has now officially shifted. It’s no longer about asking, “Should we rip and replace?” but rather, “How can we extend the value of EHRs?” This is a major difference and reflective of the industry beginning to adopt technology through more of an “app”-like model for easy integration for EHR-agnostic solutions. That’s a positive trend that we hope to see more of in 2019 and beyond—since it’s clear that we must fix EHRs for physicians and patients to enable innovation and to see even more forward motion by HIMSS20.

Ron Wince. Founder and CEO of Myndshft: My biggest takeaway from HIMSS19 is how quickly blockchain is starting to move beyond proof of concept and into production-use cases. Most of these implementations are in the administrative processes of healthcare or in data management. For example, with the recent acquisition of Lumedic by Providence St. Joseph Health, we’re starting to see health systems recognize how distributed ledger technology drastically reduces the inefficiencies in revenue cycle management while speeding cash flow and offering unparalleled data and process transparency. Payers are also discovering how blockchain streamlines claims management and improves provider collaboration. Blockchain will likely follow the same path as AI—increasing adoption and acceleration of investment in the space.

Brett Furst. Chief Strategy Officer of Payformance Solutions: As providers and payers make the migration to more risk, they will have to move away from the linear approach of narrow pilots examining just a few episodes to a more comprehensive view of their populations. There was a lot of discussion at HIMSS19 about using collaborative analytics to demonstrate the incentives and ways to do better in these value-based contracts, so they become a win-win for both payers and providers.

Matthew Sappern. CEO of PeriGen: Every year at HIMSS, there are one or two concepts that seem very “current”—that are either the centerpiece or seem to be mentioned in nearly every presentation or news release. This year’s topic was AI, which was—and is—heralded as a game-changer. I honestly hope we are all right this time. While a lot of companies may say they do AI, the reality is that very few have independent studies that prove the system in question is as good as an expert at a specific and meaningful task—which is really the best we can hope for. I know firsthand how difficult it is to get CIOs and end users to adopt these technologies—and rightly so, because much is riding on them once installed. That said, the sheer number of companies investing in AI is quickly legitimizing the notion that this technology has a place in augmenting clinical and financial workflows in the very near future.

Heather Kawamoto. Chief Product Officer of Recondo: In almost every conversation I had with various hospital tech leaders at HIMSS19, robotic process automation (RPA) was just as much a topic of interest for them as machine learning and natural language processing. There is a dawning realization that RPA is truly a workhorse of AI technologies, and one that is clearly impacting hospital finances by reducing ballooning labor costs.

Werner Eberhardt, PhD. Global Head of Healthcare, SAP Healthcare: We heard from a number of hospital operations leaders at HIMSS19 that they want their enterprise resource planning (ERP) to become the foundation for connecting clinical workflows, supply chain and hospital workforce. This will enable an “intelligent enterprise for healthcare”—one that leverages technology to reduce repetitive work and documentation while measuring costs at the patient level.

Clemens Suter-Crazzolara, PhD. Vice President of Product Management, SAP Healthcare: I had more than a few CIOs and analytics leaders approach me at HIMSS19 about ethical use of AI, as we have created a set of guidelines around this and other initiatives. This is something the entire industry needs to come together on to be sure we all make ethical use of what is really an unprecedented powerful tool for acquiring and applying knowledge.

Will Reilly. Vice President of Client and Consumer Marketing, VisitPay: Patient engagement has been an evergreen topic at HIMSS, but has largely focused on the clinical side of healthcare. However, in the era of patient-as-payer, health system executives are recognizing the enormous influence the consumer financial experience has over the entire healthcare journey. Bottom line, health systems need to utilize an evidence-based framework for understanding how different populations consume and pay for healthcare. Integrating classic marketing techniques like behavioral insights with tried and tested tools such as financial scores and segmentations enables health systems to devise granular engagement strategies at the level of the individual. This is an essential capability to compete and thrive in consumer-driven healthcare.

Brian Robertson. CEO of VisiQuate: AI was everywhere at HIMSS19. From a clinical perspective, one study projected that it could save U.S. healthcare $150 billion by 2026. But cost is only the tip of the iceberg. By acting as digital assistants to clinical specialists, AI and machine learning can remove process friction and mine a much richer lode of clinical data, enhancing speed and quality of decisioning, and ultimately improving patient outcomes. It was also exciting to see a growing interest in APIs and faster adoption this year. Integrated data that widens and improves opportunities for data and analytics enrichment is always more valuable, and we must all continue to work hard to “bust the silos.”

Eric Rock. CEO, Vivify Health: My biggest takeaway from HIMSS19 is the primacy of digital health, especially in the areas of remote and virtual care. The technology and infrastructure necessary to support these digital models of care have matured. The demand from both providers and patients is unabated. Reimbursement for those digital health services is the final, essential piece of the puzzle. It’s been very exciting to see organizations such as the American Medical Association forcefully advocate for the removal of regulatory, coding and payment barriers to digital health services and fight for expansive access to millions of patients across the nation. Combined, these elements will power the digital health services revolution and fundamentally transform healthcare delivery.

Brent Lang. President and CEO of Vocera Communications: It was clear at HIMSS19 that clinicians, IT leaders, healthcare organizations and even regulators are taking interoperability more seriously, which helps put needed pressure on technology companies to integrate solutions and share data in meaningful ways. Integrations are essential for transforming healthcare and improving patient care, safety and experience. Many healthcare activities are driven by real-time sensors that monitor patient status and trigger clinical action. So it is imperative that hospitals and health systems have a communication platform with the intelligence to understand these events, know which clinicians are available to respond, and route the alert or message with patient context to the right person or team. Intelligent system integrations simplify clinical workflows, saving valuable time and reducing interruptions, thereby mitigating cognitive overload and elevating clinician well-being.

Lory Olsson. Senior Vice President of Commercial Operations, Zynx Health: HIMSS19 may be over, but the technology presented at the conference will continue to revolutionize the healthcare industry. Some of the emerging trends included: targeted, filterable medication alerts with lab value assessments to drive better care; solutions that provide guidance to hospitals to improve clinical outcomes and ensure accurate charge capture by delivering clinical decision support based on evidence; and natural language processing algorithms and AI applied to clinical decision tools to improve the EHR experience, increase patient health literacy, and help clinicians identify potential patient care delivery issues. In addition, a trend emerged of developers utilizing FHIR to create new solutions and then partnering with health and informatics companies—which is leading to new innovations that may well reshape various facets of the industry, from patient records creation and management to patient care.

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