2015 HealthTech Conference:
The Dawn of the Mobile, Data Enabled Physician
By Thomas J. Van Gilder, MD, JD, MPH, chief medical officer and vice president of informatics and analytics
During the HealthTech Capital conference which took place October 27-28 in Santa Clara, CA, a number of conference presenters focused on how to move forward now that the era of big Information Technology (IT) rollouts (for example, electronic health records) are coming to an end. As stated on the conference website, “The HealthTech Conference focuses on practical in-depth discussions that examine how emerging startups and established healthcare players can work together to drive innovation and changes in our healthcare delivery system.” During the conference, I participated in a panel discussion focused on how value-based care will change healthcare delivery. During this conversation and throughout my time at the conference, I discovered that three words or concepts resonated widely across attendees; interoperability or integration, person-focused development and physician workflow. Why? Let’s explore these further.
“Interoperability or Integration”
Now that we have large IT systems in place to collect an individual’s healthcare data, we need to ensure that this information does not end up in a cul-de-sac. Healthcare data needs to be made available to various health partners, including physicians, for the information to be useful and actionable. In addition, healthcare data collected in one system must be made available, in a sensible way, to another. This enables a broader sampling of data relevant to an individual’s care; the opportunity for individuals to view their own health data and ability to communicate important information between visits. This is an exciting transition in the healthcare industry; the days of stand-alone portals, paper and disconnected specialist reports are finally coming to an end.
During the HealthTech conference, the importance of individuals feeling like they have health “partners” rather than strictly “providers” was discussed. The key to engaging individuals, it seems, is the ability to make the collection and sharing of health information simple and seamless, while also making it inspirational or actionable, not only for the individual, but also for their care teams. While thinking about patient-centered “use cases” and how to share patient-collected data from across the health ecosystem, I believe integrating this type of information will be the key to create engaging health solutions. Additionally, as we transition to a value-based care delivery model, it will become even more critical that we focus not only on “patients”, but those who have yet to become “patients” for a more proactive approach to healthcare. In 2016, I believe we will see an increase in the utilization of health and wellness data through new technologies that promote individuals’ engagement in their own health and consistent communication with their care community, friends and family.
As recipients of patient-collected data, physicians are often not consulted about what data is collected or how it is shared. For the promise of health IT, the impact of potential recent and large rollouts must be considered to ensure physician workflows are not disrupted. For example, making radiographic images available across (and among) healthcare systems is a laudable goal, but how, when, where, and why the images are taken, reviewed, and used by physicians in the service of their patients needs to be worked out before creating and implementing systems for sharing images. An accurate and timely image sharing system will fail to improve health outcomes if physicians can’t access the images in ways that support their already crowded workflows. As with interoperability, I am excited to see the tools that will not only fit within physician workflows, but also enhance and liberate physicians from desktop software—perhaps even create a new way of caring for patients and consulting for people who are not (yet) under their care. A mobile, data-enabled physician might be the disruptive force healthcare has been waiting for. The era of big health IT rollouts might be coming to an end, but the real fun has just begun. Connecting data sources, focusing on individuals, their needs and abilities, and integrating insights into physician workflows that support the physician-patient relationship are challenges I believe will keep us all busy in the coming years.
What improvements in healthcare do you feel are most important to focus on in the coming years?