Part two of this two-part blog series provides additional observations from HIMS22. Read part one by Dr. James Peake.
The HIMSS Global Health Conference last month challenged the industry to “reimagine health.” Among the 28,000 attendees, it was clear that this community is ready to reconnect and re-envision healthcare in a post-pandemic world. While devastating in its toll on so many health workers on the frontlines, the pandemic also provided a pressing platform for change.
The conference reinforced the need to continue to build on the momentum for using technology to create real change in patient care and to frame what’s next.
Integrating the circle of care
A common theme was the need to reset and refocus on orienting the health system around meeting people where they are.
True integrated care means members of the health ecosystem can seamlessly and securely access a patient’s data, when needed, wherever it’s stored. How can we integrate different levels of care so patients can access any of their records with ease, whether MRI results, blood work, treatment plans or prescriptions?
Of course, integrating the circle of care from a patient perspective relies on interoperability, a perennial topic. It’s no secret there are complex roadblocks to interoperability that we can’t ignore, from privacy concerns to legal issues and policy differences. And, while global events are raising cybersecurity threat levels, we can’t lose sight of our main goal of integrating patient care.
Looking to a hybrid future
There also is recognition that healthcare will evolve to a hybrid model offering both virtual and in-person care. COVID exposed how inadequate many technology stacks were to support this transition. Those with platforms in place for telemedicine and remote monitoring were able to accelerate faster. This has underscored the importance of having such platforms in place for tele-visits, remote patient monitoring and health at home. We need to transform our systems and stacks to build greater flexibility and resilience.
Health is poised to transform much like banking, where digital services are built around the needs of people.
Making greater use of data with machine learning and AI
When we think about how many health challenges will be solved, more often than not, a key to the solution will involve data in some way, shape or form.
With greater uses for and growing amounts of data to manage, there’s also a greater need to use machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI) and automation to optimize that data. An entire forum was dedicated to AI and ML at HIMSS, including a session on deep learning by CGI's Michael Meighu.
Helping scarce talent focus on what matters
The shortage of qualified health professionals, exacerbated by the pandemic, was another common theme.
Rather than relying on historic norms where patients physically interact with health professionals throughout their journey, let’s ask what can be done to improve patient outcomes while making it easier for clinicians to do their jobs. How can we create platforms that make remote care more accessible and flexible? How can ML, AI and automation improve the patient experience and facilitate clinical decision-making? Perhaps it’s a chatbot that helps patients access remote care. Maybe it’s voice technology to help nurses triage care.
For example, when traditional nurse call bells are replaced with a cloud-based, voice-activated solution, nurses can prioritize their responses because they can see whether patients are having chest pains or just need ice.
Moving to the cloud is becoming imperative
Vast data and advanced technologies also require the scalability benefits of the cloud. A presentation by Tufts Medicine and AWS demonstrated how healthcare can move quickly and confidently to the cloud as cybersecurity issues can be addressed, in some cases better than on-premises. Our emphasis always should be on how we get personal data to the patient securely. And with this movement, we will continue to unlock the power of data to positively impact outcomes.
For further observations from HIMSS22 on topics such as social determinants of health, transformational electronic health records projects, and cybersecurity, read Part 1 in this blog in this series by Dr. James Peake.