HIMSS 2013 More Thoughts and Some Disappointment

Before reading this, let me add a caveat that I did not visit every booth at HIMSS so I may have missed some really new or unique ideas.

I spent two additional days walking around the HIMSS exhibit hall, talking with vendors, looking at products and trying to understand what these companies are working to bring to healthcare. I dug into quite a few of the products from established industry leaders to newcomers soon to launch.

In the areas of care coordination, population health management and wellness I came away unimpressed. While many of the major health IT players have now linked disparate data systems, which is a good thing, and they are bringing this new data to users; I found that many of the programs designed to provide population health management data and tools for use by providers and other newly formed systems to be no better than those that were developed over the past decades by established disease management, wellness and population health management companies. The same

workflow, the same ideas. It appears that the lessons learned by disease management and wellness companies has not been considered, nor is the innovation there. This will probably result in the same mistakes being made by the new ACOs, and other delivery system, as they seek to better manage the risk they are taking on.

In fact many of the systems seem to have been based upon the Care Coordination work done a decade ago. There is still not much useful insight into identifying behavior types or engaging consumers. One example was a system that labeled a person as High Risk, so I asked how that came about. The answer was “this patient has a lot of ER visits”. Well that’s all well and good, but why do they have those ER visits, what were they associated with, can this be sourced out or determined, is there a way to analyze that for the nurse or care coordinator? It was another canned response. It doesn’t take a lot of code to identify ER visits, and companies in the care management space having been doing that for a long time.

We know the consumer is moving ahead into the world of wireless and apps, and that the mobile device we use for calls, texting and the internet has firmly changed our behavior, but I did not see a great effort to leverage this technology in new and meaningful ways by these big system providers. Yes changing the doctors behavior is important and getting disparate data streams together is a step in the right direction, but at the end of the day much of the problem with care or lifestyle issues is directly related to the patient/consumer and occurs away from the boundaries of the health care system. I looked at another vendor that had a PHR for consumers, so it tracked data and had a mobile component, yet it still required the manual input of exercise data when it was connected to a system that could provide this data feed already. Furthermore it did not have much of useful information for the consumer except for a few graphs. What’s going to engage someone in that arena if they have to manually enter their exercise?

Hopefully in the coming years we will see some of the practices in the finance, retail and other industries arrive in healthcare to micro segment the consumers so we can provide meaningful information and recommendations that will engage and impact the individual, versus the one size fits all approach.


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