Health Care, ID, Industry News, interoperability

Data, technology, and culture

More from our Craig Workinger at HiMSS…

 

We are attending the HiMSS annual meeting this week and wanted to share a few observations. It’s a terrific event, and a reminder of how important personal contacts are in an age when we’re on our screens constantly.

Nearly every conversation here includes the issue of how to get data out of isolated, proprietary systems so it can be used more effectively. If data can be collected from many sources, then AI and machine learning tools can be applied to it, looking at both text and images to create a predictive system for clinicians. That offers a real opportunity to improve patient care.

This also seems to be driving talk of partnerships, another hot topic at the conference. People recognize there are lots of technologies trying to solve healthcare’s problems but they approach it in an isolated way. So they are trying to figure out how to make data actionable and link it to what others have. The idea of partnerships is a departure for big industry players who’ve mostly taken a go-it-alone approach in the past.

Interoperability is also getting a lot of buzz at HiMSS. Most people focus on its technological aspect but that’s only half the challenge. The other is culture.

From a technology perspective, there are lots of vendors battling for market share and holding on to data as part of their competitive strategy. But that’s running up against consumer behavior. People today get their health care from a variety of places – hospitals, outpatient centers, specialized clinics, even their home – and they are increasingly shopping around. Inevitably, they wind up in separate health systems, and none of them speak to each other. So the challenge is to get the data up a level so that it’s accessible to their doctor no matter where they go.

There are technologies that can do that, and more. But change is slow, and that’s where culture comes in. Many healthcare organizations are reluctant to change. Some still use fax machines and paper records. They want to be more efficient but are slow to embrace the technology that can help them get there. Of course, adoption has been the challenge for every technology innovation, from PCs to cell phones. Healthcare tech is no different.

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