The HIMSS 2017 conference late last month in Orlando hit on many healthcare trends, from machine learning to the future of ACA, among many things. It was abundantly clear that this year, the healthcare industry is hungry for technology solutions to drive efficiency and improve patient experiences. Renowned healthcare experts shared their insights and optimism on the future of healthcare and here are all the high points all in one place:
- Cognitive computing and machine learning: Wind the clock back a few years to where machine learning and artificial intelligence were just in their infancy. This year at HIMSS, it was evident that cognitive computing and artificial intelligence were not only an accepted part of technology in healthcare but various healthcare organizations and vendors adopted a system-driven approach to achieve better health outcomes.
On the surface, machine learning may seem at odds with patient-centric care, only lately providers have recognized the benefits of personalizing care delivery in a highly responsive manner. These sophisticated algorithms can devise a care plan suited to any patient, offer intelligent clinical and administrative workflows, and monitor behavioral and health responses of patients using population health insights.
- Future of ACA: Bringing about change is never easy. The current administration’s remonstrations about the Affordable Care Act show just how hard is it to find the much vaulted better replacement while seeking the best way to repeal the legislation. The concerned officials and policymakers have made it clear that the focus and intent of the Trump administration will remain improving population health, increase patient outcomes, and reducing healthcare costs.
Despite persisting confusion, the consensus remains that accountable care and value-based care systems are here to stay. Some provisions may remain the same and survive the repeal but this entire process may take up to four years.
- MACRA: As 2017 is to be the first performance year involving major transitions to value-based care, MACRA was front and center this year at HIMSS. There were several informative sessions related to MACRA, reiterating the final rule for Quality Payment Program included in MACRA.
Attendee’s responses to MACRA related questions showed that most healthcare providers are apprehensive, due to their lack of comprehensive knowledge on the subject. While most of the payment initiatives have remained the same, some underlying principles have changed. Many medical groups admitted to not knowing where to start from, indicating that not just the technology but the policy and operational education that goes with it is as important.
- Value-based care reforms: Value-based care along with bundled payments is here to stay. The reform process calls for data transparency and technology so that providers and patients can compare performances, monitor responses and outcomes, and simplify reporting on a wide variety of measures. There are still many challenges to overcome, but nearly every stakeholder in healthcare is aware of the benefits of having data-driven, value-based care.
Technology is going to be a key element in the transition to value-based care, be it through connected devices and systems, providing seamless access to data, or facilitating an easy sharing of data across networks, the work still to be done from a technology perspective was abundantly clear.
- Patient and provider engagement: Looking at the value-based continuum of care, the need for providers and patients to be engaging one another fruitfully hinges on new technological developments. Providers are facing several challenges with existing health platforms and the lack of interoperability, and the fact that developments so far have not been sufficiently end-to-end is a matter of concern to providers and patients alike.
Health IT needs to focus on reducing the burden of providers and bridging the communication gap between patients and providers. It is important to empower and entrust patients with their health and encourage them in improving care by being an integral part of the decision-making process.
While there wasn’t one dominant topic at HIMSS this year, the theme was clear: an optimistic take on the future of healthcare. The speaker sessions, the informative exhibitions, and reinvented technology paved the way for a patient-centric healthcare with the utmost focus on delivering value. A lot has been done and a lot remains to be done as the industry navigates the challenges of transitioning to value-based care but one thing can be said for certain – Value-based Care is the Future.
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