Health IT buzzwords redefined — 11 healthcare leaders weigh in

In the wake of HIMSS cancellation, members of the Becker's editorial team touched base with technology and advisory firm leaders in March and April via phone or email. Each leader was asked to answer three questions. Here, respondents share their response to question No. 1: What's a health IT trend or buzzword you'd like to see redefined or better understood in 2020?

Read the two other articles in this series:

2020 health IT pivots: 9 healthcare leaders discuss their team's new strategies

Talk less, do more — 13 healthcare leaders apply this philosophy to health IT

Joe Bell. Vice President of Payer Operations at eSolutions: Prior authorization. It means many different things to different people. It's not sexy but it is very vital to a lot of the health initiatives that are coming out today. Providers want to truly be able to do a prior authorization electronically, but the workflow hasn't been defined for it and the information needed for the payers to make those determinations isn't available to do it electronically. There are starting to be companies in the industry that say what they offer is prior auth, but it's not what the providers are demanding.

Miranda Gill. Senior Director of Provider Services and Operations at CoverMyMeds: Healthcare consumerism. Technology and consumer demands are changing. The choice and convenience for all of us is at an all-time high. In our digital age, many industries have gone above and beyond to understand what people want and to meet them where they are, and although healthcare should be no different, it is lagging in the components of choice and convenience today.

Consumerism in healthcare is the opportunity to put the patients in charge of how they spend their money and the choices that they make on where they want to be treated and what they want to purchase. They should have all the appropriate information in front of them to be able to make the best possible decision for them and, where possible, that information should be available before they make the choice to invest in a provider or a health system or even a specific line of treatment.

Steffan Haithcox. Chief Marketing Officer at PerfectServe: Unified clinical communication. It's also known as clinical communication and collaboration, and that is the set of solutions that defines the space we work ing. We would love to see that whole term and space upgraded and elevated, because what we know from our customers is that these are mission-critical applications and are used all the time. We're working on getting the whole sector to level up.

Gauri Joglekar. Strategy and Portfolio Management-Patient Monitor at Medtronic: One phrase that is often misrepresented in today's health IT conversations is machine learning. This phrase gets used with little insight into how the technology actually influences patient care. There's also a lack of understanding around how this technology can be integrated into the healthcare technology infrastructure, which I feel is about five to six years behind in terms of the capacity to support this type of technology. The bottom line is we need to have more specific conversations around what machine learning means for patient care and how providers can go about implementing the technology.

Chris Klomp. CEO of Collective Medical: Interoperability. The term has become a buzzword that means too many things to too many people. The market has, rightfully, been very focused on technical interoperability — moving data from point A to point B and everything in between. That is really important and essential. However, frontline providers are also awash with data. They talk about burnout, what a burden it is to interact with their EHRs and record information, and the struggle to get the information they need in a timely, accessible manner.

In 2020, I hope the industry shifts to an equal focus on clinical interoperability — how we surface the right insights to the most appropriate providers in the most optimal workflow possible so that providers are free to spend more time on their patients.

Heather Lavoie. President and CEO of Geneia: Clinical integration. From our perspective, it has been one of the most significant barriers to the industry to moving forward. It's been perceived by providers, by hospitals, even health plans as this insurmountable task and I think that people have taken too wide a frame in thinking about clinical integration in that it had to be an all or nothing approach, meaning all data must be exchanged for efforts to proceed. The reality is, for most use cases, there's a minimum amount of information that's needed to be highly impactful. In fact, by pulling or pushing too much data, it's actually counterproductive, and yet I think people have had a hard time getting off the starting block because they've felt like they had to solve for everything in order to even begin.

Jerry Lepore. CEO and president of MobileSmith: Consumer-driven health plans. The reality of consumer-driven or consumer-directed healthcare and health plans is that the choice is offered either by the providers or the payers in the healthcare space and not generally driven or directed by the consumer themselves.

Conversely, that leaves an opportunity open for the health IT solution providers like ourselves to begin to actually facilitate information and provide access and communication and cooperation between payers and providers and members and patients so that, in fact, consumers can begin to drive and direct care.

Gus Malezis. President and CEO of Imprivata: This year, and frankly over the next couple of years, the buzzword we'd like to see better defined is the patient's digital identity. That term is not unfamiliar, but it does leave some questions about what it is. We would like to see more clarity around digital identity and how it should be used with providers, medical technology equipment and the patient. The way we solve that problem is by having a well understood digital identity architecture. Some institutions have already developed the digital health identity for prescribing physicians and that allow e-prescriptions of controlled substances, among other key functions.

The framework of digital identity will take more than a year to really define for physicians, nurses and patients. Imprivata has been using digital identity as a way of reducing physician burnout, which has been problematic due to the technology burden placed on physicians. We can take a great deal of that burden away with digital identity technology.

Steven Merahn, MD. Chief Executive of Union in Action and CMO at Intention Health Ventures: The phrase social determinants of health. It's so big right now and it drives me nuts. In 1977, Dr. George Engel published an article where he said that "we need to apply the same scientific rigor to our understanding of patients as we do to our understanding of disease." What he meant was that we need to incorporate behavioral and social determinants into our models of care. If we had taken his advice then, we'd be in a very different position now.

I always thought as a physician it was our job to understand all the etiologies of our patients' conditions, not just the biomedical ones. But it seems we have continued to approach patients not from the perspective of understanding who they are, but from the biomedical aspects of their disease. It's unfortunate that the design of our healthcare ecosystem has not really been patient driven.

Ross Moore. General Manager of Revenue Cycle at Olive: Intelligent automation. When you hear intelligent automation, you may think of it as a point solution where there's just one very specific workflow or capability that's been automated. Many may think of it in terms of a platform approach, using automation capabilities to be able to adopt technology and scale automation within an organization. It's all being wrapped up into the intelligent automation terminology.

Last year was the year of early adopters with regards to automation. We'll be looking this year at those organizations that adopted automation in 2018 or 2019, and seeing some of the results of their programs, and those results will help tell a story and help others understand exactly what it means to be using automation at an enterprise level.

Nagi Prabhu. Chief Product Officer of Solutionreach: Personalization. Traditionally, personalization has meant being able to reach out to patients through text messages and phone calls. Personalization has also been used to refer to how you interact with a person once they're in the clinic or hospital. At Solutionreach, we've got a bit of a different take on what personalization should mean in healthcare. Every person's health and health needs are different, so communications need to be tailored to the individual. Both the content of the communication and the medium by which the communication is made need to be tailored to the individual. There should no longer generic communication templates in healthcare.

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