The health innovation conference Health 2.0 kicked off in Santa Clara, California, to a packed house Sunday for it's day-long provider symposium. Speakers discussed their experiences with cutting edge tech meant to help with concepts such as value-based care, population health, patient-centered care and interoperability.
The fall conference, currently in its 11th year, is an exploration into the intersection of technology and healthcare delivery. This year is the first since the event was acquired by HIMSS, and the essence of previous years still remains: engaging dives into innovation, short presentations and interactive panels.
Sunday, which was technically a pre-conference day, held an array of speeches and discussions, including a policy town hall and a behavior change workshop. Healthcare Dive stuck to the provider symposium and drew out three big ideas providers had for health IT developers. While innovation is welcomed and encouraged, makers need to think about using the best metrics and about the intended audience when building out tools.
1. Vendors have to think of the human factor
Throughout the day, many providers expressed their frustrations over the current state of technology within the healthcare industry. Despite the progress that's been made in the field, many believe the technology products aren't measuring the right metrics or aren't designed for who is actually using the technology. That sentiment was on full display as panel after panel discussed the role of technology at their system.
Early in the day, Dr. Sameer Badlani, VIO and CHIO at Sutter Health, noted too much time is spent on lagging metrics judging what happened in the past rather than "leading metrics" to change outcomes providers are trying to divine. During the same panel, Venkat Mocherla, director at Qventus, agreed, noting there can be a "death by dashboard culture" where technology has lost sight of the end user.
Just because a new piece of technology is flashy and exciting doesn't mean it's useful for health systems. Badlani noted that people's workflows need to be taken into account, otherwise the "coolest" and latest tool won't actually help organizations. The panel bemoaned patient satisfaction scores. Dr. John Lee, CMIO at Edward Hospital, said, from a business perspective, they are lagging metrics and don't accurately reflect how patients feel. In addition, such scores retroactively present reviewers metrics that show how a patient felt seven to eight months ago. That lagging timeline doesn't help either the provider or the patient at the point of incidence.
A better patient satisfaction question, according to Badlani, could be, "Would you hire this person for a call center?" Patients could also be asked whether they would see that provider again. Those questions would tell you what you need to know, he said.
In sum, the panel desired to see metrics designed to think about the end users and a system of action that influences their behavior. Lee noted you can't just throw data at a provider and think it will make a difference. The projects, tools and metrics have to be meaningful.
2. Differentiation can be a measure of success
There are hordes of health IT companies already, and many entrepreneurs see the success of digital-first companies such as Flatiron Health or PokitDok and think they have a shot to strike it big. The catch is — there are a lot of entrepreneurs who think they have a shot to strike it big in the healthcare space.
Thus, these startups are all vying for the time and attention of providers, hoping to get a use case up and running to scale up to an enterprise level. The problem is, as one panel pointed out, providers are interested in the data to ensure that the tools are successful instead of hollow promises from salespeople.
One tidbit of information from Sanjay Shah, director of strategic innovation at Dignity Health, caught the audience's ear: How a product differentiates itself is a great way to measure it's success. For example, if a vendor coming onto the scene claims it can reduce supply chain costs by 30% year-over-year, then that vendor has a great metric to present to providers to prove ROI. This helps both the vendor and provider have a discussion about where a tool could factor into the strategic goals of a practice overall.
3. There are unrealized opportunities for developers
While many expressed their dissatisfaction over misaligned metrics, the majority of the day exuded an excitement surrounding technology and its continued implications in healthcare. In that regard, some panelists shared areas they thought were ripe for disruption.
For example, Sarah MacArthur, director of digital health innovation & entrepreneurship at NYU Langone Medical Center, pointed to palliative care for future innovation and said she believes the EKG is a product that could see disruption.
Her colleague, Christopher Morris, associate director at NYU Langone Medical Center, posed the question to the audience: "How do we engage with those ... that don't necessarily want to engage with us." Earlier in their panel discussion, Morris noted how patient engagement can be challenging for NYU, as one of its largest struggles is having to engage with patients for the first time. The trouble lies in that NYU may be responsible for a patient from a population health standpoint when they sign up for insurance through the marketplace, but the patient doesn't have any intention to proactively engage with the provider. There's not a lot of solutions for going out and engaging patient populations for the first time, according to Morris.
The industry is only scratching the surface with patient portals, according to Kevin Baldwin, informatics portfolio manager at UCLA Health Sciences.
Patient portals and PHRs are notorious in the space for being ideas that are simultaneously hard to champion and ones that haven't gone away. Recently, Epic rolled out a patient-enabled chart-sharing effort called Share Everywhere, which was well-received by the industry. Still, the classic argument over whether or not patients would actually use and manage a PHR if given access to one continues to thrive.
Baldwin believes patient portals can make a difference but need to be done better. He said the tools could enable patient education and allow data to flow in and out of the health record. One thing that's worked well at UCLA, according to Baldwin, is having patient portals in the hospital on the inpatient side, which helps patients manage their care during their stays in the hospital.
New entrants into the health IT space could find success armed with differentiation metrics that matter to end users in untapped markets. However, as many have noted, healthcare is complicated, and that's quite the tall order.