Top 5 Observations at HIMSS16

HIMSS16

With a conference that draws over 50,000 attendees, 1300+ vendors, 300 educational sessions, and interesting keynote speakers, there is always plenty of food for thought. So much so that it can take a while to really assimilate all the information and process it into key observations.

Our team has just returned from the show, so I just wanted to quickly share our top 5 observations at HIMSS16:

  1. Value-based payments: There was much discussion on the shift to value-based payment. The MACRA/MIPS regulations are expected in the spring, which could mean as early as March or as late as June, with the Final Regulations mandated to be published by November 1. While the goal of MIPS is to simplify life for providers (by rolling up all the various current programs into one streamlined program), it’s a good bet that things will get more complex before they get easier. All of this begs the question: How will physicians be ready to comply beginning on January 1, 2017?
  1. Interoperability: No surprise that everyone was talking about this! This was reinforced when big-name healthcare technology providers promised to use standardized APIs to make access to patient information easier. Interestingly enough, this also ties in with the HHS wanting to expand its oversight of electronic health record vendors. The proposal they released on March 1 would allow the agency to review how certified health IT products interact with other products, with the aim to prevent data blocking, and to review certified HIT vendors if required (and even to take away their certification if necessary!) The comment period for the ONC rule ends on May 2.
  1. Population Health: This is increasingly becoming one of the top buzzwords at this show. More and more people are talking about it, but there does not seem to be a clear definition about what value this brings. After discussions with different attendees and vendors, it was clear how unclear it was: everyone was providing different answers. The term population health is much more widely used than it was back in 2003 when it was defined by Greg Soddart and David Kindig as “the health outcomes of a group of individuals, including the distribution of such outcomes within the group.” The management element is using the aggregation of patient data to devise actions that improve both clinical and financial outcomes. But what data should be used, especially when it comes to specialty practices? Clearly this is something that needs to be defined to ensure we are getting real value from these solutions.
  1. HHS and CMS: There was an interesting session with Karen DeSalvo (National Coordinator for HIT, Asst. Secretary HHS) and Andy Slavitt (Acting Administrator, CMS) where the barriers to data sharing was discussed, and 3 commitments were announced:
    1. Consumers will be able to easily and securely access their electronic health information and send it wherever and to whomever they want.
    2. Providers will share information for patient care with other providers and will refrain from information blocking.
    3. The government will implement national interoperability standards, policies, and practices and will adopt best practices related to privacy and security.

This further reinforces the 2nd observation in this post about HHS wanting to expand its oversight of electronic health record vendors. This session also brought up an interesting point about data blocking; DeSalvo pointed out that a year ago there were a “host of organizations who denied that blocking even was happening,” and now these same groups are “willing to publicly say that they want to engage in something now they’ve acknowledged info blocking can exist.” Hopefully, these same groups will follow with their pledges. As Slavitt advised, “I strongly encourage you to recognize those that don’t [live up to their pledges]” (FierceHealthIT).

  1. EHR collides with NFL: Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, the reigning Super Bowl Champ, gave a speech at the show thanking the health IT community. For a man who has gone through 3 potentially career-breaking, neck surgeries, I think it is fair to say he can “fully appreciate the value of information systems to keep hospitals functioning.” A physician joined Manning on stage, discussing the NFL’s EHR system and their portals, allowing players access to their medical details. Manning put it like this: “Football is a game. Revolutionizing healthcare is a mighty endeavor.” He also mentioned that leaders in any field need to evolve to match circumstances (HealthcareIT News).

Of course, HIMMS is a huge show where other topics were discussed too, such as patient engagement and RCM. The points mentioned above were only our key takeaways from it. We want to understand the latest regulations and trends, and how these will impact healthcare specialists. What were your key takeaways?

Adam Curran

Adam Curran

Product Marketing Manager at SRS Health
Adam Curran is a Product Marketing Manager at SRS. He oversees marketing intelligence to support the development of strategic marketing plans. Prior to joining the organization, he was a key member of a pharmaceutical software company’s Clinical Development Business Unit, specializing in the clinical data management elements of the drug development lifecycle. He was also the editor for their microsite’s blog. Adam has also held roles at the UK’s National Energy Foundation and Skills Funding Agency.
Adam Curran
This entry was posted in EHR, Government, Healthcare, Innovation, Leadership, Technology by Adam Curran. Bookmark the permalink.

About Adam Curran

Adam Curran is a Product Marketing Manager at SRS. He oversees marketing intelligence to support the development of strategic marketing plans. Prior to joining the organization, he was a key member of a pharmaceutical software company’s Clinical Development Business Unit, specializing in the clinical data management elements of the drug development lifecycle. He was also the editor for their microsite’s blog. Adam has also held roles at the UK’s National Energy Foundation and Skills Funding Agency.

2 thoughts on “Top 5 Observations at HIMSS16

  1. I would like to comment on #2, the vendors. Some offices had to change vendors because the vendor didn’t update their software for required MU and PQRS reporting. This was an expensive venture with cost associated with the choice of a server-based or cloud-based system. For example, the cost of a particular cloud-based software for a single-physician office, the EHR portions is about $750.00 a month and another $200-300.00 a month for the PM portion. Then to have support to learn “what boxes to check” to satisfy MU requirements costs approximately another $250.00 a month, the same thing for PQRS is approximately another $250.00 a month and to be able to send reports/visit notes between physicians offices is another $200.00 to $700.00 a month depending on how many sheets you electronically fax through the secure portal. (The cost starts at about $.10 a page, which adds up in a hurry.) A single physician office is paying a vendor approximately $2000.00 a month for a cloud-based system. Server-based systems, good ones, for a single-physician office runs around $80,000.00 plus a maintenance agreement that usually is around $500.00-750.00 a month. Having to change a software vendor is very expensive.
    Yes, the vendors need policing. They are bleeding the small physician offices dry. In their defense, CMS continues to change the requirements for reporting. That requires programming changes and implementation. CMS needs to get it right (ask for the pertinent information by specialty) and let things settle so we can get back to the business of caring for patients.
    Yes, vendors need policing. They must be required to keep their software up to date with the reporting requirements of our government programs and they need to be required to provide ALL the modules needed for a physician office to satisfy these requirements under ONE fee. Training on how to use their software to satisfy reporting should be included in that fee. If a vendor fails to keep their software up to date with reporting requirements, they should be given a deadline to update their software or be fined an amount that will assist physician offices in changing to another vendor. It is wrong for CMS to certify a software, the vendor doesn’t update the software to comply with CMS and the physician in not able to report to avoid penalties, and it is the physician who is penalized.
    At present, it is the responsibility of the physician and it is the physician who must bear all of the expense for changing to another vendor when their vendor fails to keep up.

  2. Thanks for your thoughtful comment. We feel your pain. Medical practices and the vendors that serve them have all struggled to remain compliant. Unfortunately, this means that some vendors have chosen not to pursue the requirements for continued meaningful use certification.

    We believe in user-centric design, including earning our certifications so that our clients can successfully attest and earn their reimbursements. In addition, we work hard to prepare for other future industry challenges whether they be related to compliance, data capture, interoperability, or value based payments. We try to take those burdens off of their shoulders by designing easy to use, frictionless solutions, so that they can focus on their patients rather than technology.

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