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Cerner booth HIMSS

by John Peterzalek
Published on February 18, 2019

Estimated read time: 6 minutes

Last week, health care and technology leaders from around the world came together at HIMSS19 to rally around the theme of “Champions of Health Unite.” Although the education sessions, exhibits and networking events were diverse, they all had an undercurrent of the huge cultural shift that is reshaping health care into a system that offers more value for consumers and providers. There was a strong call for those of us who are committed to delivering better outcomes and smarter care to be trailblazers in the revolution and reimagining of health care. I left HIMSS energized to seek breakthroughs that will shape health care now and into the future. Here are some of the top insights I gained from the conference:

The time is now for interoperability

It’s no surprise that interoperability was a major topic of conversation throughout HIMSS. As the conference kicked off, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology revealed its proposed information blocking rule which requires that electronic health data be available to support interoperable consumer, provider and payer access to electronic health information. The rule also outlines exceptions and possible fines for stakeholders who violate the policy. If the rule goes into effect by its proposed timeline, the open exchange of electronic health information will receive a major boost, and consumers will have much broader access to their health data.

It was inspiring to hear Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma speak at several points throughout the conference about the importance of putting the needs of patients first. She and other prominent figures made it clear that patient data belongs to patients and information blocking will no longer be tolerated. Cerner supports the rule as it pushes open platform concepts, increased vendor transparency and an ability to innovate above the floor.

The health care industry should do all it can to empower consumers and provide greater access to their data. The push for nationwide interoperability seems stronger than ever as it becomes more and more evident that open platforms will move innovation forward and allow us to solve the most pressing challenges in health care.  At HIMSS, Cerner presented advanced interoperability enhancements. Our new capabilities, including a longitudinal patient record, open standards for edge development, advanced reconciliation and referral management, are designed to simplify provider access to data to better inform care, and empower consumers to engage in and manage their own health.

Addressing physician burnout is a priority

The topic of physician burnout was top of mind at HIMSS. As the effects of the epidemic ripple through the health care community and impact the quality of patient care, there is a sense of urgency to bring real change to this industry-wide challenge.

As part of our ongoing commitment to enhance the clinician experience, Cerner introduced Chart Assist, a new AI-enabled workflow, to join a suite of solutions designed to reduce physician burnout and increase productivity.

Data, analytics and artificial intelligence must be leveraged

Amid rising health care costs, the digitization of data and an increase in the health care talent gap, health systems are continuing to look for ways to advance analytics. The industry must put an emphasis on accelerating intelligent innovation that arms clinicians with the information they need to know, manage and engage the people they serve. AI-enabled workflows, machine learning solutions and natural language processing are essential to operationally aware health care.

As the conference began, President Donald Trump signed an executive order promoting artificial intelligence — another signal that the impact of this crucial technology is growing.

During HIMSS, Salesforce announced new capabilities for their Health Cloud that will empower providers to bring together a patient’s care history with social determinants of health, such as living conditions, socioeconomic status and environmental factors. This is an encouraging example of how we can use the abundance of data in the EHR to create more meaningful patient-provider interactions and discover new evidence-based insights and workflow interventions.

Consumers are driving care delivery

The opening keynote was a dynamic panel focused on the impact of consumer-directed exchange on the health care marketplace. In addition, Harold F. Wolf III, president and CEO of HIMSS, interviewed Gary Shapiro, author, president and CEO of the Consumer Technology Exchange, on how technology and consumerism will significantly alter the health care experience.

Of note, is the Accenture 2019 Digital Health Consumer Survey that offers a look at the future of U.S. health care as consumers expect more convenience, affordability and quality. The survey results show that younger consumers are dissatisfied with many aspects of traditional care. Digital capabilities, such as electronic prescription refills, email or text message reminders for preventive and follow-up care and secure email communication with providers, have an increasing influence on who patients choose as their provider. Furthermore, non-traditional health care services are now mainstream. Fifty-seven percent of the survey’s more than 2,000 respondents reported using outpatient/day surgery hospitals, and 47 percent use walk-in or retail clinics.    

There were many developments around telemedicine at this year’s conference. The promise of increased access to health care, lower costs and greater consumer engagement is a motivator to continue to invest in this technology. In fact, at the Health 2.0 VentureConnect event, investors listed telemedicine as a primary area of interest for 2019. Virtual health is an increasingly powerful tool in the fight against the opioid epidemic as it provides individuals in underserved communities with access to prevention, treatment and recovery services they might otherwise not have.

Outside players are moving consumerism forward in health care and bringing a fresh perspective to the industry. It’s an exciting time for innovation toward more efficient and effective care. At HIMSS19, Apple announced it will soon launch its Health Records feature for American veterans. The company said that for the first time, American veterans receiving care through the Veterans Health Administration will be able to securely view their aggregated health records directly in the Health app on their iPhone. Cerner collaborates with Apple Health to connect consumers’ medical records from multiple institutions alongside their patient-generated data on their iPhone. Our Cerner Healthe Clinics, located on each of our Kansas City campuses, participated in the beta release.

After an invigorating week at HIMSS19, we must return to our organizations with a renewed sense of purpose in our mission to elevate every stage of the health care experience through information and technology. The opportunity is ripe to transform the way health care is delivered across the continuum.

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