Health IT Leadership Summit: Technology in healthcare lagging behind other industries

Health IT Leadership Summit: Technology in healthcare lagging behind other industries

By Dodge Communications (not verified) on November 21st, 2013

The Metro Atlanta Chamber, TAG Health and the Georgia Department of Economic Development  put on another successful Health IT Leadership Summit. While at the Summit, there was a common theme integrated in almost every discussion—healthcare technology isn’t up to speed compared to technology in other industries. While keeping this in mind, there was much discussion about the future of health IT and innovations on the horizon. Below, you will find several topics commonly discussed with regard to HIT trends in 2014.

Patient engagement. “Patient engagement,” a term that was dropped in almost every session, encompasses the direction and future of healthcare. Jeff Arnold, Chairman and CEO, Sharecare Health, discussed the growing importance of patient engagement as an integral aspect of achieving better care. The challenge of patient engagement is getting patients to take advantage of increased access to information and understand the benefits of engagement.

Reed Tuckson, MD, FACP, explained the need of advancing the field of assessment of individual engagement through computers, mobile, apps, etc. He offered that disseminating data through preferred individual engagement strategy will improve outcomes. Social networks are also becoming increasingly useful for patient engagement in that they drive consumer behavior. The focus on patient engagement should be continual throughout the care experience—from pre-registration to post-discharge. Engaging throughout a patient’s health journey is often the greatest challenge of engagement but it will lead to the overall goal of healthier, more engaged patients who are returning to their lives, not the hospital.

Data analytics. When panelists were asked which trend would most positively impact healthcare outcomes and quality of care, multiple experts identified data analytics as a game changer. Once data is analyzed, key indicators can be identified that will allow the industry to progress. Deb Cancilla, CIO of Grady Health System, described data analytics as the best tool to understand the information we’re collecting and the importance of using it to improve overall quality of care. Tuckson offered his insight on analytics and the need to liquify the results so they are easily accessible to patients for engagement.

Electronic health records (EHRs). Healthcare IT is slowly catching up in the area of electronic health records. The greatest hurdle in healthcare is combining it with technology because of the personal nature of healthcare records and the compliance regulations set in place, which have hindered certain growth within EHRs. Despite compliance issues, great opportunity lies within EHRs as they have helped improve medical errors and contributed to better outcomes and higher quality of care.

In addition, EHRs can greatly contribute to patient engagement. Optimal consumer engagement depends on integrated digital support and access for consumers. EHR is an asset to data, making information readily available to the consumer. Tuckson offered an example of patient engagement tying into EHRs through a fitness app that incorporates health records while encouraging a commitment to personal health. Tuckson explained that the real revolution in EHRs and patient engagement will come from integrated and connected pieces like this. In this day in age, EHRs offer a more practical way to store health records, as most consumers prefer to receive information in a digital format and having all of this information in one central location is easily digestible.

Disruptive technologies. Disruptive technologies in healthcare are new technologies that unexpectedly displace an established technology to provide more affordable and higher quality products and services. They disrupt and transform the healthcare market to improve patient outcomes and reduce cost. At the HIT Summit, we had a chance to hear from several healthcare experts regarding the disruptive technologies that will fill Healthcare Reform Act requirements and how they change the care model.

According to the panelists, coordination of information is critical in making the greatest impact in healthcare. Reiterating the importance of data in healthcare, the panelists offered that data is at the core of disruption and healthcare innovators must determine how to collect, apply and automate data to turn them into outcomes. In addition, we must stop thinking in silos, as the next phase of disruption is to stop disrupting on an individual basis and begin disrupting as a group—this is where we will see outcomes in the industry. Adding to this concept is that partnerships between hospitals and technology suppliers will contribute to successful disruptive technologies.

Overall, well-known health IT leaders brought deep insight into the future of the industry at the Summit. Integrating healthcare with technology is the biggest hurdle in healthcare because of the very personal nature of these records; however, these rising trends will allow healthcare technology to grow immensely.