A Look Back at HIMSS – and a Look Forward at Healthcare

While I was at the HIMSS (health information management systems society) conference recently, I kept thinking about Alphonse Karr’s age-old adage, “The more things change, the more they remain the same.” Long considered a ‘provider’ conference, a prevalent theme at this year’s HIMSS was care management/population health across the care continuum – a topic of interest once nearly exclusive to payers. In fact, industry guru and Renaissance man, Dr. John Halamka, observed this same theme at HIMSS – writing about it in a recent blog.

Of special interest to Dr. Halamka was the integration of social, mobile, analytics, and cloud (SMAC) in the more robust care management solutions. Halamka noted, “The theme I heard frequently was the need for care management/population health applications based on data acquisition, normalization, mining and workflow.” The good doctor concluded that once he and his colleagues are finished with their current flurry of activities for 2014, “…we’re all likely to turn our attention to care management/population health as part of our Affordable Care Act implementation.”

Why the pending rush to care management? Because accountable care is taking hold at a lightning-fast pace for this typically slow-footed industry. Already, over 600 accountable care organizations (ACOs) of various formats are managing care for nearly 20 million Americans. A leading industry group projects that by 2018 over 85 million Americans – 25% of the population – will have their care delivered by an ACO. That rivals the number of Americans covered under ‘managed care’ plans back in their heyday in the 1980s.

This emerging demand for care management/population health solutions was clearly evident in the HIMSS Exhibit Hall. Pega presented its latest edition for the care management space, and I was impressed to see a significant number of clients and partners demonstrating their innovative care management solutions, as well. One was Aerospace Giant Lockheed Martin’s subsidiary, QTC, which demonstrated how it is using dynamic survey assessments to impartially gather medical data pertinent to each individual U.S. military veteran applying for medical benefits. This is a huge value to the Veteran’s Administration as they work to reduce an unacceptably high backlog. Another was world-wide consulting luminary Accenture which literally showcased – in the HIMSS Interoperability Showcase – a hands-on solution for clinicians and case managers. Now being piloted in a progressive Asia-Pacific country, Accenture’s solution supports both the auto-generation of individualized care plans as well as the creation of care teams appropriate to the patient throughout the patient’s journey across the country’s entire collection of health systems.

Care Management solutions are at the heart of these rapidly changing times in healthcare.

 


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