Navigating HIMSS 2018: What Would My Patients Want?

This week, more than 45,000 healthcare IT professionals, clinicians, executives and vendors from around the world have assembled in Las Vegas for the 2018 HIMSS Annual Conference and Exhibition to discover the latest technologies, trends and solutions in health IT. Themed “Where the World Connects for Health,” this year’s event will undoubtedly feature innovations in artificial intelligence, blockchain, cloud-based analytics, and cyber-security, among other trends.

From the seemingly endless number of educational sessions and 1,300+ vendor booths to the networking opportunities and hundreds of swag items, there is truly something for everyone. The annual health IT extravaganza can be overwhelming, fascinating, inspiring, exhausting, and entertaining all at the same time.

A different approach to HIMSS

Without question, knowing what to do and where to focus your attention at HIMSS can be daunting. Some of the bigger vendors have booths the size of basketball courts with interactive exhibits and spend millions to wine and dine customers. But before the drinks start pouring, I challenge you to approach HIMSS with a different perspective this year.

As you wander the exhibit hall, you’ll see a plethora of technology solutions that can help make healthcare more efficient – whether it’s revenue cycle, human resources or analytics platforms. That’s not to say those are not valuable offerings in today’s healthcare environment. Many of these solutions reduce costs and improve efficiency, which absolutely are business imperatives.

However, between the networking events, over-the-top displays and extravagant giveaways at HIMSS, there is one constituent that is almost entirely absent from the conversation, and that constituent is the patient.

Technology solutions and the patient

We are now entering an era where information technology can actually impact the health outcomes of patients. Just as pacemakers are one of the most important advances in treating patients suffering from heart rhythm abnormalities, patient engagement solutions are making a similar impact on health outcomes. Whether it’s managing chronic disease, preventing readmissions or complications or supporting medication adherence, these technologies have the power to keep patients in the fold when they’re outside the walls of the hospital or clinic.

As you walk the exhibit hall at HIMSS, take a moment to ask yourself, “What would my patients want?” Think deeply about solutions that would truly benefit your patients. Is it blockchain, interoperability, AI or another of-the-moment tech concept? Do your patients really want or benefit from those?

I would posit that the answer is “no.”

What patients want are the tools and capabilities that bring their provider closer to them throughout their episode of care. They’re energized by tools that enable their provider to deliver a higher level of service and connect them with the treatment they need, when they need it. Patients who engage with their care teams via automated, daily check-ins have fewer complications, are happier with the care they receive and are more likely to recommend their provider to others.

These are the technology solutions that meaningfully impact the lives of patients and their loved ones. Healthcare providers who take patient engagement seriously will find themselves way ahead of those who don’t.

Daily patient engagement improves outcomes

We recently held a summit where we spent a few days working with some of our key customers. Health systems and high-performing medical groups from around the country attended the summit in Park City, Utah. We were honored to see all of the fantastic results that our customers have achieved in terms of superior economic performance, physician satisfaction, and quality improvement. The stories that stood out most of all, though, were the anecdotes about how much patients genuinely appreciate GetWell Loop and how the solution is saving lives.

One story that stands out is a patient recovering from a total knee replacement surgery who recognized a serious health problem early because of daily engagement with his physician. Before this patient underwent knee surgery, his care team used HealthLoop (now GetWell Loop) to ensure he received educational information about the procedure and complications that can arise during recovery.

As he recovered from his knee replacement, he experienced pressure in his calf, which soon turned into pain, cramping, and difficulty walking. He couldn’t stop thinking about the symptoms described in HealthLoop’s educational information.

When the patient’s calf pain worsened, he double-checked the information in HealthLoop and discovered his symptoms matched the description of a deep vein thrombosis, which, if not treated, can result in a pulmonary embolism, an often-fatal condition.

He knew he needed to call 9-1-1 immediately. The physicians who cared for the patient told him that call saved his life. The man thanked his doctors and hospital administrators for using HealthLoop and said that without it he would have most likely lacked the information that prompted him to seek help.

It is customer stories like these that make me so excited about the potential of patient engagement solutions to improve health outcomes. More than just a useful tool, daily engagement with patients is an important safety measure. Without an automated system for daily engagement, care teams are much too busy to touch base regularly with patients once they are discharged from the hospital.

This is an exciting time in care management and patient engagement. Hospital and health system administrators now have more options than ever for facilitating daily dialogue with patients. These solutions are beginning to take hold because they’re effective and because more and more patients expect this level of engagement with their care teams.

See you at HIMSS

Enjoy your week at HIMSS. Soak up the vendor booths, educational sessions, elevator pitches, and after-hours events. Score more swag than your purse or pockets could ever hold. But remember to keep your patients at the top of your agenda.