- Not too long ago, “2020” was convenient shorthand for “sometime in the distant future.” But healthcare professionals gathering in Orlando this year for the annual HIMSS Conference and Exhibition may have the slightly uncomfortable feeling of an expectant new decade peering right over their shoulder – and gaining on them fast.
In many respects, the future has indeed arrived for healthcare. Sci-fi technologies such as artificial intelligence, augmented reality, and cutting-edge imaging tools are already allowing providers to learn faster, decide better, and see more clearly into the intricacies of the human condition.
And the tools with which providers deliver care aren’t the only things changing. The country as a whole is altering its attitudes towards health, wellness, and the responsibility of the healthcare industry to deliver better results at more reasonable costs.
The Silver Tsunami is putting strong pressure on payers, providers, and technology vendors to develop experiences and services that meet the needs of a rapidly aging population – and the new generation of their largely unpaid caregivers who are demanding more support for a difficult and often thankless task.
Regulators and lawmakers are adding to the tension by chipping away at the legal and financial foundations of the Affordable Care Act while simultaneously touting value-based reforms and the need to make expansive investments in interoperability, patient-centered experiences, and price transparency.
2020 will likely be an important inflection point for healthcare on a number of levels, and 2019 is the last chance for key stakeholders to strategize and prepare for an industry that might look very different in the decade to come.
For payers, it’s innovate or die. For health systems and physician groups, it’s buy or be bought. For vendors, it’s Amazonification or obsolescence.
And for individual providers, it’s the nagging sense that their homework is finally coming due, and maybe they should buckle down and get to grips with this whole “data-driven decision making” thing after all.
The yearly HIMSS gathering, which brings together more than 40,000 health IT professionals to learn, brainstorm, question, and commiserate with their peers, is a good place to be when change is afoot.
Attendees can swap stories, explore new technologies, and hear directly from top leaders in the field about how to succeed in a highly challenging, uncertain landscape.
Now, more than ever, it will be critical for stakeholders to level-set and prepare for a wildly different future driven by consumerism, fluid data exchange, and the staggering potential of machine learning to revolutionize care delivery.
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This year, HHS Secretary Alex Azar will be joined by CMS Administrator Seema Verma to set the tone on interoperability and patient engagement, no doubt touching upon the Department’s signature patient-centered initiatives such as MyHealthEData, Patients Over Paperwork, and the new hospital price transparency rule.
National Coordinator Donald Rucker and former ONC chief Karen DeSalvo will also be on hand to talk innovation, technology, and consumerism in keynote addresses.
Meanwhile, special pre-conference sessions in cybersecurity, blockchain, value-based care, and transforming the patient experience will showcase insights from executive leaders and experienced providers.
Artificial intelligence will play a starring role at this year’s conference, featuring prominently in over 50 educational sessions, and likely mentioned in dozens more.
From security and decision support to pharmaceutical development and organ transplantation, AI and machine learning are becoming deeply ingrained in the healthcare consciousness.
On Monday, attendees can pay a little extra to sign up for the dedicated Machine Learning & AI for Healthcare track, where sessions such as “Synergies Between Man and Machine,” “Blockchain & AI: Stronger Together,” and “AI and Imaging: Your Data as a Strategic Asset” will prepare providers for a future in which learning algorithms reign.
On Tuesday, all HIMSS registrants can participate in educational sessions where experts from the AMA, Microsoft, and the Cleveland Clinic discuss the ethics of using AI in patient care, then explore how Geisinger Health System is applying AI to the management of COPD patients.
Leaders from Kaiser Permanente and Pricewaterhousecoopers will encapsulate the theme of this year’s conference in a session called “Digital Fluency within Healthcare: The New Normal,” discussing the importance of becoming familiar with automation, AI, the cloud, and other strategies to create the organization of the future.
Attendees can also learn more about how consumerism is altering the relationships between providers, payers, and patients. Designing meaningful opportunities for patient engagement while prioritizing convenience, clarity, and access to care is a major challenge for the majority of the industry’s participants.
CMS has repeatedly stressed the critical importance of patient-centeredness in everything from administrative processes to price transparency, but where should organizations start when trying to transform themselves into consumer-driven entities?
Two all-day symposia, one on Monday and the other on Thursday, will give organizations a head start.
Monday’s “Patient Engagement & Experience Summit,” which requires separate registration, will address key components of marrying data analytics with human-centered behavioral nudges to generate lasting and impactful change.
Thursday’s track, called “Consumerism of Health,” is also a good launching point. With a strong focus on leveraging technology to engage patients, the gathering will touch on topics such as patient financial responsibility, understanding consumer behaviors, and preparing organizations for an increase in elderly patients.
Conference-goers who prefer to spend more time browsing the busy vendor floor can stop in for individual sessions throughout the show, such as “Call Center Turned Strategic Patient Engagement Engine,” presented by Penn Medicine, or “Empowering Consumers with Data to Improve Chronic Disease Conditions,” addressing the payer perspective on consumer engagement and preventive care.
No matter which educational sessions attendees choose to take part in, the overall lesson from HIMSS19 will be clear: traditional approaches to patient relationships, legacy technologies, and overly-conservative business strategies are simply not going to cut it in 2020 and beyond.
The time to prepare for the future is now, and taking advantage of everything HIMSS19 has to offer could give attendees a critical edge as they plan for their financial and clinical success.