Health Information Industry Developments

Provided by University of South Florida

Health information and technology leaders identified cybersecurity as their No. 1 priority for 2019, according to survey results released at the Health Information Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Global Conference last month in Orlando.

HIMSS interviewed both healthcare providers (such as hospitals and health care facilities) and vendors and found that both groups identified seven of the same top priorities. along with cybersecurity, the other six are:

• Improving quality outcomes through information and technology
• Clinical informatics and clinician engagement
• Data science/analytics/clinical and business intelligence
• Process improvement, workflow and change management
• Health information exchange, interoperability, data integration standards
• User experience

“Providers and vendors are really well aligned in terms of their priorities this year,” Mike Kroll, Senior Manager of HIMSS’ Office of the Chief Technology and Innovation Officer, said during the survey’s unveiling at the conference, which ran from Feb. 11 to 15, 2019, in Orlando, Florida.

“We see that as a positive result,” Kroll said. “With both providers and vendors working on these, we’re hoping to see significant progress made.”

USF Health attended the HIMSS conference and identified several themes important to health care and technology professionals. Among the observations:

Worker Shortages Might Hinder Technology Efforts
It’s well known in the healthcare industry that there is a worker shortage. The World Health Organization estimates that there are currently 7 million fewer healthcare workers than are needed, and that the shortfall will grow to nearly 13 million by 2035.

While technology is seen as a way to help healthcare organizations do more with fewer people, the scarcity of workers with relevant IT skills might mean that many healthcare providers will have to slow down or stall their technology initiatives.

“A significant portion of respondents said they were negatively impacted by workforce challenges to the point that they have had to place IT strategies and implementation on hold or back away from them altogether because they don’t have the workforce to make it happen,” Kroll said. “This means companies may have to take smaller bites of the apple until they can get more people in.”

People Are Part of the Equation
There is a growing awareness that human commitment and interaction will be needed to complement technology-based informatics initiatives.

New rules issued by the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) address information exchange and putting patients in the driver’s seat when it comes to their data. Those guidelines are worded in a way designed to encourage viewing healthcare as a human process. In her HIMSS19 speech on interoperability and patient engagement, CMS Administrator Seema Verma described healthcare of the future as “a world where everyone, everywhere, has access to a health ecosystem for wellness, with humans at the center of it.”

IT Systems Must Respond to Physicians’ Needs
One area of discussion was the need to mold healthcare IT around professionals’ needs, and not the other way around. That means allowing for more flexibility in the way practitioners interact with technology.

“For the last 15 years, we tried to get physicians to use some sort of structure for information entry,” said Dr. Hee Hwang, Chief Information Officer Associate Professor Department of Pediatrics Seoul National University Bundang Hospital. Hwang focuses on interoperability and efficiency in South Korea. “But IT systems should allow physicians to do their work in their own way.”