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HIMSS19: Recap and Insights of Top Trends and Takeaways

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Author: Dan Martin, Executive Vice President, Healthcare at PAN Communications
Dan MartinExecutive Vice President, Healthcare

Last week more than 43,000 health executives, policy makers and academics descended upon sunny Orlando and took over 1.1 million square feet of floor space at the Orlando County Convention Center. They showcased the latest and greatest in technological advancements, networked with peers, discussed policy issues and learned more about important trends facing the industry at the HIMSS 2019 conference.

Couldn’t make it down? That’s OK because the PAN Communications’ healthcare team was onsite (along with numerous clients including Zipnosis, GetWellNetwork, Everbridge and Choate Hall & Stewart) and we’ve got you covered. In a nutshell, the big conversations won’t come as a surprise as they were at the center of previous HIMSS conferences, but in 2019 we saw some incremental progress in each. So, without further ado, here are our top three takeaways and trends to watch out for.

1. Consumer-centricity

healthcare conferenceEngaging and empowering the patient are key and, more recently, so is price transparency as the battle rages on to improve care and reduce costs. With more information and resources at their disposal, patients can better understand their treatment options, make more informed decisions about their care, and have more of a voice when communicating with their providers.

The loudest message we heard from both government and private industry at HIMSS19 was a desire to continue to enable patients to play an even greater role in their own healthcare and healthcare decisions. As a result, innovation in healthcare information technology (HIT) is continuing to make waves and was a big topic at HIMSS.

In particular (and predictably), artificial intelligence (AI) was the topic-de-jour supported by machine learning and predictive analytics. In fact, AI was named as the innovation with the greatest potential to impact healthcare at HIMSS19. Based on what we saw and heard at HIMSS, companies will continue to develop tools, offerings, technologies/platforms around AI and provide a better user experience to better engage and interact with patients. Companies will also hone in to understand and address patients’ complex behaviors and needs once discharged/outside the care facility (i.e. across the full continuum of care).

HIMSS19 recap and trends2. Interoperability

As the healthcare market looks to evolve to a point whereby the process is as seamless as possible for care givers, providers, plans and patients, it is critical for all parties to be able to track and monitor a patient.This journey could be in-network, out of network, at their PCP, at a specialist as well as any of their past medical issues, prescriptions or procedures. To do so effectively requires the smooth orchestration of different information systems, devices and/or applications in a coordinated manner within and across organizational boundaries. This not only improves the experience but also raises the bar on the quality of care and, ideally, the reduction of costs.

All of this took center stage on day 1 at HIMSS19 when the Trump administration released its highly anticipated proposed interoperability and data blocking rules. The new rules by the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for Health Information Technology, involves the patient not as a person being “acted upon” but as someone in control of their electronic health records. Meaning, if a patient requests their record and it’s not given to them electronically and for free, that is information blocking. This new rule will take effect in 2020. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) would also require that healthcare providers and plans implement open data sharing technologies to support transitions of care as patients move between these plan types. The ONC’s proposed rule is calling on the healthcare industry—to be able to enact these proposals—to adopt standardized APIs. The vibe at the show was positive and, by all accounts, the rule proposals were welcome by many in the industry, with some important caveats. Fortunately, the industry has until April to comment on spots they don’t like. We’ll be keeping track. Interoperability has been a long-standing theme and challenge in the industry BUT the ONC’s proposals are an attempt to move things forward…so, that’s progress.

zipnosis_healthcare3. Cybersecurity

With interoperability being a central theme of HIMSS 2019 given the ONC’s proposed rules (as well as the industry’s ongoing conversations on the topic over the past 3-4 years), one question that arose was how the health industry will prepare its cybersecurity infrastructure as data sharing becomes more prevalent between different health systems, technology companies and electronic health record (EHR) vendors.

“Freeing data from locked silos will spur innovation at a pace we have never seen before, supporting future advancements in healthcare through new medications, devices and more personalized treatments,” CMS Administrator, Seema Verma, said in her keynote address.

It is clear the health industry will have its hands full as it moves to integrate data from across the healthcare spectrum and we’ll be keeping a close eye on how that unfolds in the coming months. We have a feeling that cybersecurity will, again, be a trending topic at HIMSS 2020 because this isn’t a quick fix but rather will require documenting best practices, collaboration between public and private sectors as well as hospitals and device makers, and mutual agreement on how to best move forward, not to mention implementation and execution.

Of course, there were many other salient topics and trends for us healthcare nerds to feast on down in Orlando including precision medicine, population health, telehealth / virtual care, the cloud, and digitization of healthcare to name the big ones.

But, one last prominent focus at HIMSS19 that we’d be remiss if we didn’t call out was the Women in Health Tech (#WomenInHit, #hitchicks) presence and movement. From the show floor to the education sessions and from the panel sessions and roundtables to the networking events, these women were energized and ready to close disparities of all kinds. We’re proud of the gender diversity across PAN’s healthcare practice and it was great to see that extend to HIMSS – the industry’s biggest stage!himss_2019We work with clients across the spectrum of B2B Health IT and, more specifically, within the digital health space, that are face-to-face with the daily opportunities and challenges associated with building a brand in today’s ever-changing healthcare market and that touch all the above-mentioned trends, themes and topics. We insert them into those conversations and break through the clutter, whether it be through earned, owned, shared or paid media. Have an integrated marketing or PR need? Check us out, reach out and let’s chat!

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