HIMSS 2018 Keynote Speaker Cites Need For “Killer Apps” and Connectivity, Many Facilities Still Lacking Integration of Clinical, Financial and Operational Systems
Exclusive Article By Thanh Tran, CEO, Zoeticx and EMR Industry Advisor

In the HIMSS keynote address Monday evening, before a standing-room only crowd of thousands, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt warned attendees that the “future of healthcare lies in the need for killer apps.” But he also cautioned that the transition to a better digitally connected health future isn’t just one killer app, but a system of them working together.  He touted Monday’s  announcement of Google Cloud Healthcare API,  which allows the user to take the data out of existing data stores like EHRs and put them in a normalized way into these new databases.
 
As usual, the HIMSS 18 Conference has not disappointed with its broad range of healthcare issues to explore.There are the usual new versions of EHRs being displayed by vendors such as iPatientCare and major medical institutions such as Indiana University Health’s optimization project called “Uplift.” Healthcare professionals can also expect to see from the conference advances in blockchain technology, AI innovation and precision medicine.

Of the more than 1,300 vendors exhibiting, companies offering these types of solutions were drawing some of the larger crowds among the 45,000 medical pros expected to attend. Some of the specialty pavilions include: Connected Health Experience, Cybersecurity Command Center, Federal Health IT Solutions Pavilion, HIMSS Interoperability Showcase Innovation Live, Intelligent Health Pavilion, Lightning Sessions, Solutions Lab and University Row.

VitalConnect announced new technology in hospitals nationwide that will shift monitoring standards in both hospitals and remote care environments. Lexmark unveiled mobile printing and secure prescription apps along with technologies for patient admissions, nursing stations and business operations.

Clinical, Operational and Financial Integration Still Lacking

Schmidt is correct in his assessment and there is still need for implementing HIT systems that enable ‘killer apps’ for new health IT priorities and procedures. Convergence in the health care sector is accelerating the need for interoperability, not just for EHRs, but also across clinical, financial, and operational systems. This need is also challenging and changing one of the biggest traditions in healthcare—the doctor-patient medical visit.

In the past, patients would simply make appointments to visit their physicians, but now, we have the popularity of Annual Wellness Visits (AWVs) and the growing need for chronic care treatments caused by the opioid epidemic and other behavioral health issues. These trends are causing physicians to be the ones actively pursuing patients, but with both sides reaping the benefits. This new approach to the traditional doctor-patient relationship enables patients to receive better care while clinics and hospitals build up a roster of new and potentially long care patients.

Disrupting this office visit tradition are also larger, long term HIT changes such as the widespread implementation of Electronic Health Records (EHR) and other healthcare practices. However, these changes spurred many challenges, but also a great deal of opportunities, many of which have yet to be fully capitalized upon. To understand these developments, we need to be cognizant of the increasing opportunities patients and physicians have in interfacing with the healthcare system.

Enhanced access of patient data by authorized patients, professionals and algorithms focusing on analytics or artificial intelligence is now a requirement for enhanced patient engagement, improving professionals’ delivery of care, enhancing clinical decision making and optimizing patient outcomes while maintaining choices that are consistent with best practices, patient values and prior empirical experiences.

Evolving Relationship Drives Healthcare Revenue

While the doctor-patient relationship is evolving, hospital systems and physicians must still derive revenue which is at the core of that relationship. The healthcare industry is now looking at revenue which can be generated through the interoperability of AWVs, chronic care and service care transitions between physical and behavioral health services. Hospitals and healthcare clinics that can connect these services with technologies such as bi-directional information flow will benefit by creating new profit centers of revenue through reimbursements by CMS and private insurers.

“With annual wellness visits and behavioral care management, doctors can reach out to patients rather than waiting for patients to schedule an appointment. This flips the traditional patient-doctor relationship, enabling doctors to spend more time with patients to provide superior care and also drives hospital and clinic revenue by bringing in more patients,” said Doug Brown, managing partner, Black Book Research. “Healthcare institutions using cloud based, bi-directional interoperability technologies such as Zoeticx’s ProVizion are a win-win for the healthcare industry.”

Driving this trend are new apps and innovations that address the payment gap caused by medical billing and collections processes with outdated EHR platforms and inoperable systems. New technologies from organizations such as Core Care Medical and others fueled by the growth of cloud computing in the healthcare industry are improving real-time communication and data exchange. Here are some examples of how this is working which you might not hear about at HIMSS.

Hospital CEO Drives Revenue with Doctor Patient Visit Apps

A healthcare colleague, David Conejo, CEO, Rehobath McKinley Christian Healthcare Services (RMCHS) is boosting revenue right now using this doctor-patient flipping model as a strategy to help in his effort to improve behavioral healthcare for Gallup, New Mexico’s large Indian Reservation community who suffer from addiction to alcoholism and opioids.

He integrates data from the hospitals’ three clinics using a cloud application that streamlines data from AWVs and integrates it with any EHR system without data duplication. The Zoeticx ProVizion app also allows for the management of support tracking for wellness visits, provides a physical assessments guide through preventative exams, and maps out the risk factors for potential diseases for patient follow-up visits. He can then enter the relevant data about the patient.

In addition, the app includes everything else that Medicare would recommend apart from a checkup. The app also lets him identify integrated EHR solutions that could also meet CMS and private insurers billing requirements. RMCHS’ business is growing with full or near-full compliance. And with its ACO in startup mode, RMCHS is also receiving a bonus check for $80,000 from Medicare for containing costs, in addition to the new revenues being generated.

The fact that more patients can be seen is a bonus. When the doctor comes in, they already have the requisite information about meds, compliance and other important factors, but if a physician saves 10 minutes per patient, at 18 patients a day, that’s an extra 180 minutes. More minutes, more patients.

“Integrating EHR data and using bi-directional patient information flow technology to enhance patient care is the goal of healthcare institutions. If you can do that while driving revenue through population programs like AWVs and behavioral health services, you are moving healthcare forward. If that requires changing the traditional office visit, so be it,” says Richard A. Royer, CEO, Primaris, a healthcare consulting firm that works with hospitals, physicians, and nursing homes to drive better health outcomes, improved patient experience, and reduced costs.

Another organization whose community benefits from AWVs is Cardinal Innovation’s Healthcare (CIH), the largest specialty health plan in the US, insuring more than 850,000 North Carolinians with similar needs to RMCHS’s patient population. CIH works with numerous local and regional healthcare organizations in administering proactive health programs.

This is good news for RMCHS, CIH and other organizations that now must think of patients as consumers and reexamine the doctor-patient relationship. Be it via an office visit that occurs in person, over a telemedicine channel, or passive data stream from personal health technology, information will continue to expand and be used to enhance the care delivered.

We are at the inflection point where involvement with building useful workflows that are in sync with the needs, values and channels through which patients interact with the healthcare system. When we understand the technology is not only to make our lives easier, but ultimately to enhance the care we can deliver, as measured by the outcomes and functionality to the patients we deliver our care to.

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