Featuring educational and networking opportunities for more than 43,000 attendees, HIMSS18 upheld its place as the premier event for professionals involved in health information technology (HIT). Topics and trends included digital health, interoperability, cost containment, healthcare analytics, patient engagement as the path to healthcare sustainability and more. Here is a summary of HIMSS18 highlights and insights that inspired two of our team leaders in HIT. 

RCM Summit Trends

Jess Clifton, Account Manager

With the uncharted waters of value-based care rising, cost management solutions were top of mind for me at this year’s HIMSS gathering. The day before HIMSS18 formally kicked off, I attended the pre-conference Revenue Cycle Solutions Summit to learn more about the financial strategies healthcare organizations are using to improve patient experience and outcomes while also controlling costs.

I anticipated hearing formulas for better understanding the total cost of care and tips on waste reduction. While those topics did come up in some measure, the sessions were more keenly attuned to the role patient engagement plays in revenue cycle management (RCM). Three important trends are driving renewed emphasis on patient experience in healthcare RCM:

  • Rise of high-deductible health plans putting more financial responsibility on patients
  • Drive to better appeal to patient choice as consumerism and competition heat up
  • Growing link between patient satisfaction ratings and reimbursement

Financial transactions often represent patients’ only engagement with healthcare organizations outside of sporadic onsite visits. Though the HIMSS conference pays ample heed to leading-edge technologies that are moving the clinical experience “beyond the wall,” the basics of easy bill-pay have been long overlooked. It was refreshing to see how providers are working to build a more compassionate billing experience through services and benefits such as digital and self-serve collections, longer-term payment plans and up-front pricing transparency.

Those efforts seem particularly critical in light of a stunning statistic shared by one presenter: approximately 46 percent of Americans do not have enough money to cover a $400 emergency expense.

Digital Technologies Target Future Older Adults

Angela Jenkins, Executive Director, Public Relations & Content Strategy

“Clearly there is a disruption,” said Joseph Kvedar, M.D., vice president of Connected Health at Partners Healthcare and internationally recognized pioneer and visionary in the field of connected health, during his opening remarks at the HIMSS18 Digital & Personal Connected Health event.

By 2020, for the first time in recorded history, the number of people on Earth aged 65-plus will outnumber children younger than five years. By 2050, the number of people 65-plus is expected to triple to 1.5 billion, representing 16 percent of the world’s population. Commented Dr. Kvedar, “With twice as many people over age 65, we need more resources no matter how well we’re doing. Bodies break down and we’re running out of healthcare professionals.”

A self-described both early Gen Xer and late Boomer, I found these World Health Organization stats alarming in realizing the massive changes facing my generation. Unsurprisingly, the aging global population’s influence on new models for care coordination including high-risk care management is questioning the traditional roles of the hospital and health plan going forward.

But the event’s procession of panelists and speakers quickly calmed my nerves. Presenters talked about the need to create engaging experiences for the patient—simplifying mobile app use to increase compliance, evolving care to team-based trusted partnerships, designing “Grandma-tested” approved products, and paying closer attention to every patient’s individualized lifestyle. The next generation of tools will encompass mobile data, population health, artificial intelligence, tablets, smartphones, health devices and other technologies—promising care and outcome transformation and strengthened connectedness in the decades to come.

Despite significant progress, many tools today have yet to be embraced by certain segments of the older population. In his closing remarks, Dr. Kvedar said simply, “Healthcare is human.” That’s right. While the aging population represents a dynamic, immense market, age-friendly planning and design must be adaptive, inclusive and humane to meet their special needs and limitations.

Learning about digital technology advances is exciting. I look forward to HIMSS19 innovations targeting older adults to help optimize their engagement living long and productive lives.

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