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Setting our Sights on HIMSS17

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Author: Matthew Briggs, Senior Vice President, Healthcare at PAN Communications, headshot
Matthew BriggsSenior Vice President, Healthcare

Prediction season may nearly be behind us, but that doesn’t stop us from looking ahead. In fact, we’ve been setting our sights for a while now on the next big meeting of the brightest minds in healthcare: HIMSS17.

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A common thread through the transformation of healthcare is the influence of IT, and we need not look further than this year’s conference to see continued convergence over questions that continue to prevail: when will technology finally transform healthcare? How does it stand to better predict outcomes? Where can it have the greatest impact on care delivery systems? What will be the technology tipping point for fully realizing its potential to improve care and, ultimately, lives, find cures, reduce costs, positively impact insurance coverage and reign in spending?

Healthcare took center stage during the 2016 Presidential election with both campaigns presenting two drastically different points of view on where to take the American healthcare system and more specifically, what to do with the Affordable Care Act. With “repeal and replace” talk abound under the Trump Administration, it remains to be seen how campaign rhetoric may translate into actual policy. Will the legislation be swapped out as quickly as former-President Obama’s red curtains in the Oval Office?

Politics aside, one thing remains clear despite the uncertainty: healthcare technology will only continue to innovate and drive change. As we look ahead to HIMSS17 we’re excited to be helping our client partners continue to drive conversations around the future of healthcare. First, here are a few predictions for what may take center stage in 2017 – and at HIMSS17 specifically – from our clients, friends in the media, analysts and digital health partners:

EHRs will become more interoperable. The next certification cycle from the Office of the National Coordinator for the Health Information Technology (ONC) positions the EHR as a secure repository, allowing certified ancillary tools to be “snapped” into it. This will be driven by a new Application Programming Interface (API) called Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR). FHIR is a more granular way to exchange data without the rigid workflow of traditional Health Level Seven International (HL7).

Amazing Charts, a leading developer of EHR and PM systems for physician practices

Patient centricity will remain a major area of focus for pharma companies in 2017. Patient recruitment rates remain low, and pharma will have to find new and innovative ways to make trials easier on, and more accessible to, patients. Greater outreach to the patient community will also help alleviate the fear of trials and mistrust of the industry that currently exists in the industry.

— Ed Miseta, Chief Editor, Clinical Leader

I predict Massachusetts’ insurance market will undergo massive changes in 2017, as the rules for operating change amidst likely repeals of the Affordable Care Act, and as Massachusetts finds its own way to make health care reform work. I also see more growth with larger health care systems in the state, either through acquisitions or by newly established systems working to expand outpatient services in suburbs.

— Jessica Bartlett, Health Care Reporter, Boston Business Journal

Legal drug importation becomes a real possibility in 2017. Although it’s clearly early innings, President Trump has shown little hesitation taking on entrenched business interests with strong ties to government spending, such as defense contractors (Boeing, United Technologies and its Carrier Division). The US pharma industry gets 40%+ of its revenue from federal and state health funds; in addition, it is not high on any list of popular consumer surveys. Allowing importation of lower-priced pharma products from abroad will be a great baseball bat for him to hold over the industry to rein in price hikes.

— Nick Basta, Editor-in-Chief, Pharmaceutical Commerce

The Key to Detection Lies in Technology—The road to prevention isn’t about nudge psychology or getting sedentary folks of the couch.  The real promise of prevention is in the very early detection of events via technology such as nanoparticles that can find disease on a sub-clinical cellular or biochemical level. So, the path to prevention is actually found as we move asymptotically to earlier and earlier disease detection.

— John Nosta, Digital Health Evangelist, Founder of NOSTALAB

I intend to spend my time at HIMSS looking for things. The first: Technology that takes patient and consumer engagement beyond reactive, episodic care and provides more proactive, continual care while at the same time not disrupting already-hectic clinical workflows. The second: Organizations and vendors that are stretching out of their comfort zones and using low-cost technology to engage with under-served populations (and not just their normal pilot program participants) in order to achieve lasting behavior change.

— Brian Eastwood, Analyst, Chilmark Research

This year’s HIMSS conference will concentrate heavily on many healthcare topics du jour, including cyber security and interoperability as a function of technology advancements, connected health in the era of digital transformation and enhancing innovation in precision medicine.

These are colossal trends to digest when looked at broadly. But as we always counsel our clients, look past the incremental and embrace the transformational. This is no easy task in light of legislative uncertainty, but as PR professionals we bear first-hand witness to how rapidly industries can change; we appreciate the speed at which demand for innovation can exceed supply of innovative ideas; and above all, we instill in our clients the courage to pivot in ways that will help them champion their missions and connect authentically with stakeholders. It’s an exciting time for healthcare. The stakes are high, but so are the opportunities.

Attending HIMSS17? Drop us a note if you’re headed to Orlando!

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