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Reflecting on HIMSS 2017: 3 Key Trends from the Healthcare Industry’s Biggest Disruptors

HIMSS sign, courtesy of FierceHealthcare

Image courtesy of FierceHealthcare

It’s a pivotal time for the healthcare industry. Healthcare has a reputation for being slow to adopt technologies, but innovators in the industry are showing that they’re ready to turn to health IT strategies to disrupt the way our health system operates.

 

Some of the greatest minds in healthcare gathered at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society’s annual conference last month to discuss the latest innovations and trends driving this evolution in healthcare. The most prevalent topic at HIMSS this year was the influx of data, what to do with it and how to protect it. Here are a few takeaways from the conference and how we predict they will evolve:

 

AI and the New Cognitive Era

IBM CEO Ginni Rometty kicked off the show with a keynote on the potential of cognitive computing to unlock a new “golden age” in healthcare. Rometty suggested that artificial intelligence has the power to free clinicians to engage more deeply in their primary interests by doing much of the legwork for them.

 

Rometty’s take on the ability of AI to transform the healthcare industry was not surprising given the overwhelming hype of machine learning technologies, as well as IBM Watson Health’s research and development activities over the past two years. However IBM isn’t the only company with its eyes on AI.

 

While Rometty herself admitted that AI in healthcare is a bit of a “moonshot”, companies in the industry are already proving its impact. During the conference, M*Modal announced that its AI-based clinical documentation solutions enabled physicians to free up more than 2 million hours of their time that would have otherwise been spent documenting it. And Nuance revealed results that proved clinicians can save up to 45 percent on documentation time with a 30 percent drop in errors when using their solutions.

 

The Rise of the Empowered, Engaged Patient

Knowledge is power for patients, yet historically patients have been left in the dark regarding their health data. One argument frequently raised at the conference was that patients should be allowed access to their data, especially if it can help them track and manage a condition.

 

Physicians are beginning to place a larger emphasis on care in between visits. This empowers patients to become active participants in their own health and extend their care beyond the four walls of the hospital. Additionally, there are many digital health apps that already aim to provide consumers with the ability to collect and analyze their critical health data, ushering in a new generation of informed patients.

 

With the rise of telehealth platforms and advanced remote monitoring technologies, data collected at home is as accurate as data collected at the doctor’s office. However this concept is not yet widely accepted across the healthcare sector. This gap calls for a connected healthcare model where all of the different stakeholders can share data seamlessly across systems.

 

Cybersecurity Concerns

Not surprisingly, with all this data comes the added concern of how to keep it safe. In a presentation about making the right investment in security, Mac McMillan, co-founder and CEO of health data security and privacy company CynergisTek, discussed the overwhelming need for cybersecurity adoption in healthcare. The industry suffered a record 92 privacy breaches attributed to hacking in the first 11 months of 2016, which was a 64 percent increase from 2015.

 

This trend will continue as hackers become more savvy at breaching health system data centers. Healthcare organizations are on alert and spending accordingly. 90 percent of U.S. healthcare respondents feel vulnerable to data threats, which may explain why 81 percent of U.S. healthcare organizations and 76 percent of global healthcare organizations will increase information security spending in 2017, according to a study released at the conference by 451 Research and cybersecurity technology and services vendor Thales.

 

The healthcare industry is at a crossroads. While it faces the unique challenge of encouraging an open flow of health data between patients, providers and physicians, it also must remain mindful of how to keep that sensitive information out of the wrong hands. Healthcare is certainly a sector to keep your eyes on as it continues to stride toward system interoperability and a secure, seamless data exchange.