‘Data is Going to Come at You By Storm’

The future state of healthcare will be driven by demographics, technology, and value. Most of all it will require professionals to manage new, vast amounts of data. Three thought leaders delivered their visions for the future of healthcare data at Tuesday’s General Session.


A Nation of Floridas

Joseph Coughlin, PhD, director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Age Lab, described a new frontier for health as the population ages. With a large cohort of Baby Boomers approaching old age, Coughlin said the country will become “a nation of Floridas,” and that Boomers will have different expectations than the generations before them. He said the older consumer will be generally healthier, better informed, female, and accustomed to managing complexity.

At the same time, the convergence of technology and social networking will further change the way we experience healthcare as we age. Wearable intelligent devices, personalized medicine, and retail clinics will create more data that needs to be managed. “Data is going to come at you by storm, and I would submit that we are not even mildly ready,” Coughlin said.

This vision of the future opens up new opportunities for HIM professionals, Coughlin said. Patients may not understand what all the information means and they will need professional guidance. New roles such as health data coaches may appear. “Can you become that distillation point?” he asked the audience.


Moving the Data

Mark Blatt, MD, medical director of enterprise solution sales at Intel, enumerated three trends that are changing healthcare: the transformation of fee-for-service to value-based payment; greater awareness of privacy breaches; and increased attention to avoiding hospital readmissions, particularly through coordination of care.

He envisions a future where healthcare is coordinated among providers to reduce costs, using collaborative workflows like real-time data streaming and video conferencing. “It is about the data, it is about moving the information; and if that’s not what you want to do, your job is about to change,” Blatt said. “If all you’re doing is diagnosing and treating…you’re costing money.”

To accomplish this, Blatt said, we need “mobilized data” that can be gathered and shared to anyone who is part of the care team. Patients, he said, “want all the records, all the data, always there and available for them.” This collaborative approach to care can shorten delays, reduce cycle times, and reduce errors, he said. All of these trends point to potentially better patient outcomes.

Information security will also continue to be an issue. “Thieves increasingly go after healthcare data,” Blatt said, because it takes healthcare organizations a longer time to detect breaches. He said that most large organizations probably will face a breach at some point, so they should expect devices to go missing, but prepare with enterprise-level security techniques.


Digital Medicine, Analog Healthcare

Travis Good, MD, MS, MBA, co-founder of share.md and editor of HISTalkmobile.com, believes that traditional in-person healthcare will always exist, but to stay relevant these providers should find ways to integrate with the new digital forms of healthcare, such as mobile apps and online networking communities that patients are starting to adopt. Even “grandmas can do telemedicine if you give them the right tools” like a smartphone, Good said.

Patients want to be engaged using these tools and they enjoy using them, but doctors are not always as interested, Good said. “The system is not really ready yet; there’s concern we’re missing that opportunity,” Good said. Technology is not the bottleneck; the challenge comes in integrating technology into the care system.

Apps that collect personal healthcare data can also create new data silos, Good pointed out. Ideally, there would be a way for all of these to be unified, but it doesn’t yet exist. “We need to go way beyond that in terms of finding meaning for all this data,” he said.


Truman Medical Center Takes Grace Award

On Tuesday morning, AHIMA CEO Lynne Thomas Gordon presented AHIMA’s second Grace Award to Truman Medical Centers of Kansas City, MO for innovative approaches in using health information to deliver high-quality healthcare.

“As an academic medical center, our vision is leading the way to a healthy community.
But you need the supporting health information to accomplish it,” said Marcia Johnson,
associate administrator of strategy, planning, and informatics at Truman, accepting the award. “That’s why we consider HIM and HIM professionals to be strategic corporate assets.”


Follow the news and get insights from AHIMA’s 85th annual Convention and Exhibit being held October 26-30 in Atlanta, GA. For a complete list of event coverage on the Journal of AHIMA website, click here.


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