This past year posed great challenges to healthcare, but it also brought great innovation with significant potential. The healthcare industry has a lot to be proud of, which I consider to be a key focus of the CHIME21 Spring Forum. As participants in this forum, myself and other members of Forward Advantage were happy to take part in the exchange of ideas on how current trends have accelerated and changed during the pandemic.
See below for key topics discussed during the event that will affect all healthcare IT staff and clinicians- not just CIOs. Of particular focus were Interoperability, Cloud Technology, and Care at Home.
Interoperability is Consumer-Driven
Creating a better human experience in healthcare for patients by overcoming internal barriers to information sharing was a key trend at the conference. Consider this example provided by John Halamaka, MD, CIO, President of the Mayo Clinic Platform: If you were to be the care navigator for yourself, your spouse, your children- it is nearly impossible today over various platforms (phone, smoke signals, morse code...).
What does this mean for you? Improving the accessibility of information enhances provider satisfaction and drives better patient outcomes. However, this requires all-hands-on-deck as IT carries a burden to support the healthcare industry's consumer shift. Also, required would be a novel set of tools with appropriate privacy protections and consent that enables a designate in the family to help with care navigation. The APIs that are going to be part of this requirement in the interoperability rule will be essential when creating tools.
Cloud Technology: For Patients or Doctors?
Cloud-based technology is another hot topic in healthcare showing no sign of slowing down. MEDITECH's CEO, Howard Messing, shared that shifts to the cloud are influenced by Big Tech fighting for the consumer- the goal being to please the patients, not the doctors. Google, Amazon, and Microsoft all believe the future will be hybrid and data built on the cloud. How does Google expect to work with facilities? Its answer is open standards with APIs and an interoperable API structure. Microsoft's approach is to augment its customer's current capabilities. The goal is not to rip and replace but to integrate with other existing technologies in a cost-efficient matter.
Cloud-based technology provides many benefits, but the CHIME Forum showed that concerns remain. CIOs shared that costs from cloud computing do not necessarily result in desired cost savings, especially when various legacy applications require unique hosting arrangements. As organizations move to these solutions, considerations should be given on minimizing multiple user connection fees to each environment.
Care at Home: What do Patients Want?
Telehealth became a booming industry during the pandemic, and its "overnight success" was a hot topic at CHIME. Telehealth served a vital purpose during a time that in-person visits were either not possible or just not desired. With vaccine distribution well underway and in-person appointments resuming, many are curious about the future of telehealth. See our recent post on this topic here.
The following results were shared at CHIME by John Halamka, M.D., M.S., President of the Mayo Clinic Platform:
• 78% of over 3,000 patients surveyed felt their health concern was addressed well
• 78% got telehealth from their own provider
• 50% of rural patients said they would not have access to healthcare if not for telehealth experience
• 73% expect virtual care delivery is going to be the way they receive care in the future
As these statistics show, support for telehealth remains strong. In fact, telehealth is morphing into a new Care at Home model incorporating patient-accessible devices for in-home monitoring. Care at Home will undoubtedly continue to develop and change in the coming months and years, and is an example of healthcare’s ability to adapt not only during a crisis but to consumer preferences.
As a parting thought, consider this statement made during CHIME that I found particularly on-point considering the past year: “Act now but plan forward. Technology had to be created in the moment. We have a responsibility to take the innovations that were made for COVID and turn them into a foundation for the future.” - Aashima Gupta, Director, Global Healthcare Strategy & Solutions for Google
Thank you to Mike Murphy, Audrey Brislin and Lisa Pregent for contributing to this article.