The HIMSS Connected Health Conference, being held this week near Washington, brought together a confluence of individuals and ideas with the specific purpose to discuss and hash out this “connected health” business. From an outsider’s standpoint, the conference — now in its 7th year — looks to have been built out quite a bit from it’s early years (possibly because it has).
HIMSS CEO and President Steve Lieber told Healthcare Dive the conference was expanded to stretch the industry’s concept of mobile health to include discussions on cybersecurity and population health rather than simply sticking to the discussion of technology.
“This year we changed the focus to connected health,” Lieber said. Changing the scope opens up topics such as the transmissions of health data as well as device security.
“Previously, the discussion around mobile health was about ‘me’ and capturing ‘my’ health information,” Lieber said. Now, “we’ve started talking about sharing that information with health providers…and one of the things I saw on the newer edge is recognizing putting ‘me’ in a virtual community” part of a larger health community that wants to interact and engage with individuals with similar conditions. “That’s one of the things I saw this week that was a little bit of a different twist.”
With such a twist in mind, Healthcare Dive noticed a fair amount of buzzspeak occurring in panel discussions. This is not an end-all, be-all list of healthcare buzzwords. Far from it. In fact, some buzzwords have become so ingrained in discussions, they've lost meaning in a wash of "Please Advise" email threads. Here's some of the buzzwords we overheard at the Connected Health Conference:
- Tokenization – Substituting sensitive data elements such as personally identifiable health information with non-sensitive equivalents with no exploitable value. Such efforts can help population health efforts as more individuals get interested in sharing their health data with others. One actionable population health tool of utilizing tokenization could be an insurer or healthcare system reaching out to individuals with fast resting heart rates to offer mobile information or encouragement without actually knowing the identities of the individuals. However, as data points adds up, protection can only go so far in terms of identifying a patient.
- Internet of Things - So buzzy there were dedicated panels to it. On a grand level from a healthcare perspective, this concept takes wearables or other devices used to track health data and connects them to the Internet. In the next five years, health data are expected to explode. Experts noted IoT from a healthcare perspective needs to be seamless and actionable for patients. Some debated how much input patients should themselves have — whether they should “live their lives” and the devices track and upload all the data for them or if the patients should upload health data. The concept is still new yet the health data explosion is coming, especially as Baby Boomers become elderly.
- Interdisciplinary - "There’s a cultural chasm between the clinical and technical world,” said Dr. Paul Nagy, associate professor of radiology and radiological science at Johns Hopkins University Schools of Medicine. More training is needed to understand different disciplines across departments within a team, he said. That includes four perspectives of a team — technical, design, clinical provider and business. “We need adaptive leaders,” he said, adding it takes enormous empathy to understand how nonlinear a healthcare workflow can be.
- Medical Record Infection - Healthcare data may not be stolen because it has healthcare information, but simply because it’s data. Stephen Cobb, senior security researcher from ESET, told Healthcare Dive that healthcare data is a rich source of data hackers can use for other means. For example, a EMR includes name, address, and a Social Security number. If healthcare data is stolen or hacked, a criminal can use that information to conduct tax fraud or fraudulent medical billing. A medical record can be infected if and when someone uses another person’s information and presents themselves in the hospital setting, which can cause complications such as fraudulent medical information that doesn’t relate to the rightful individual’s medical record. Cobb stated risk assessments need to be done on a regular basis so that “risk posture doesn’t fall behind threat scape.“
Lieber noted different terms are used depending on what part of the exhibit floor you stand as the conference attracts different audiences. At the startup section of the exhibit floor, “you’re going to hear language reflective of where they are in development. They’re focused on where things are going to be in 6 to 12 months whereas at a different part of the floor, you’ll be talking with people farther along their development cycle,” Lieber said. Whereas the more developed products might be discussing functionality and engagement, he notes it’s a dynamic environment at the conference as those two somewhat different populations are at different stages in their product cycle.
Heathcare Dive also asked some of the company’s at the Startup Showcase and Accelerator Hubs what buzzwords they heard and what they mean to their company:
- Simplify - “For me, simplifying healthcare means to get the patient an easier way to take care of themselves,” said Sheila Muschellack, owner of the Brazilian company N8 Intelligent Solutions Ltd., which developed the mobile game Diabattle. Her app is a gamified platform for diabetics with social components to get to the core of the motivation loop to try for a long term behavior change.
- E-discovery - This refers to discovery in investigations dealing with the exchange of information in electronic formats. The concept is messaging has to be fully traced so if there is a threat of messages, whether it be between a couple individuals or a group of people, organizations — due to laws like HIPAA — can pull those threats in case they are audited by an independent property, said John Neary, regional sales manager for Lua, a HIPAA-compliant mobile messaging software platform.
- Predictive - “Can you actually make predictions about what might happen based on a user’s history but also populations of groups similar to the user,” says Durga Pandey, co-founder of 12 Labs, maker of the app Applause. “We use data science to observe the behavior of users and then nudge them towards healthier behavior. That includes nutrition data, weight, steps, and sending relevant articles.”
Lieber concluded the conference is edging more toward health than healthcare. “I think that’s an important distinction about what we’re seeing and talking about."