HIMSS 2019 and the Future of Healthcare

February 21, 2019 - by Talya Meyers

Healthcare experts sat down for an interview with WELL health editor Talya Meyers to discuss their greatest hopes for the industry in 2019


SANTA BARBARA, CA — February 21, 2019 —  Ah, HIMSS. Tens of thousands of people, hundreds of sessions, and a mile-long exhibition hall that’s more carnival than conference. Who says healthcare IT isn’t exciting? Not WELL!

The WELL team had a fantastic time at HIMSS19 – showing off our product, presenting new partnerships, and sitting down with some seriously insightful industry leaders to get their perspectives on where healthcare is headed and what they’re most excited about in 2019.

The short version? It’s a fascinating time to be in our industry. “Generally, when you have disruption in the industry, you have one or two technologies that disrupt it. For example, a steam engine disrupting the entire way we manufacture, or electricity changing the way we create and move power,” said Asif Dhar, Chief Health Informatics Officer and principal at Deloitte Consulting.

But not in healthcare. “What we’re seeing across the board is this wonderful kind of tipping point where technologies from virtual reality to robotics to the Internet of Things to video and artificial intelligence and data at scale [are] all converging simultaneously,” Dhar explained.

Experts usually complain about how slowly the healthcare system changes – often trailing behind more flexible fields like retail and hospitality. At HIMSS, though, we caught glimpses of an industry that’s evolving at light speed, whether it’s developing new definitions of patient engagement (more on that soon!) or exploring the potential of machine learning to advance preventative care.

And while the industry leaders we interviewed all had their own unique vision of healthcare’s future, there were definitely some common themes. We’ll need to meet patients where they are, providing more personalized experiences and asking the people we serve how they want us to engage with them. New partnerships and technologies can make healthcare simpler and more accessible. Automation and AI have the potential to re-humanize the industry and revitalize the doctor-patient relationship. Healthcare needs to move outside the hospital and become a part of patients’ daily lives.

Or, better yet, in their own words:

Julie Rish, Director of Best Practice
Office of Patient Experience, Cleveland Clinic

“I think there’s tons to be excited about in healthcare. This is a time where we are ready for change, and people are saying, ‘You know, we’re not going to take this. We’re not going to do this anymore. We are going to demand that we disrupt the system.’ That gives us a tremendous opportunity to do just that.

The other thing that I think is really exciting is the collaboration: our ability to partner tech solutions in connected ways for patients. To be very thoughtful about ‘What is the interconnected experience that we’re creating, and what are the enablers to do that?’ It’s not necessarily just one thing. It could be a series of things, and it’s going to be personal to our patients, so we might have some [options] for some patients, some for others. We have to understand and know our patients, and then to be creative: How do we design that experience together?”

Asif Dhar, Chief Health Informatics Officer and Principal
Deloitte Consulting

“AI is starting to be used not only as an interesting tool, but as an enablement both for consumers and clinicians to get through almost an impossible tsunami of data. Your bathroom scale has a number you understand, so you know what do with it. If you got terabytes and terabytes of data as a consumer, you wouldn’t have any tools. But what if you had AI algorithms? For example, do most people know what goes into their credit score? No. But they know to manage it.

So now, we have AI tools being able to understand the impacts of health and data, and all of this massive amount of information, to calculate, ‘Hey, you might want to be nudged here,’ or ‘You might want to consider this clinical pathway there.’ Those tools are able to empower clinicians and patients and consumers and caregivers and families to think about what they’re doing. The power of AI can not only help process huge amounts of data, it can be a tremendous aid to give us the one thing that we don’t have: time.

A clinician really suffers from availability of human contact, the sort of engagement we’re having right now. And AI has a tremendous capability, not of making us more robotic, but giving us the thing that we most desire, which is time to be empathetic, to be caregivers, to be care receivers.”

Niko Skievaski, Cofounder and President

“We are seeing more niche providers come out to deliver different experiences for different types of patients. I love looking at the small people who are actually transforming the way that care is delivered on the fringes. At on one extreme you have companies like Forward or One Medical, who are changing the way that care is being delivered for very healthy people. The tech nerds who aren’t really unhealthy use those sort of services, and they get a concierge experience. They get the convenience that sort of that type of person is looking for.

On the other end of the extreme you have companies like Iora, who are doing care delivery, but oftentimes in the sickest populations. It’s a very different way of delivering care, and, by specializing in those types of personas, I think that we can start to see really different care delivery models start to innovate.

To figure out what type of patient they are requires a lot of data: actual clinical clinical data, but also [data about] what the patient is doing on a day-to-day basis. There are a lot of social determinants that go into that. So I think this focus on what happens outside of the clinic, outside of the hospital, is also something that we’re going to see transform healthcare, because 99-point-whatever percent of our lives are not in the hospital, and that has so much more impact on our health than what goes on inside the walls of healthcare delivery.”

Adam Dakin, Managing Director
Dreamit Ventures, Healthtech

“We’ve spent a lot of time and money trying to manage chronic disease. Adherence is a huge problem, whether it’s medication or lifestyle adherence. So we have companies that are figuring out different models of behavior modification to motivate patients. No one’s cracked the code in terms of what is it that we need to do to get patients to live healthier [lives]—or better yet, if you really want to save money, prevent the disease in the first place. That’s how you really move the cost. I don’t think anyone’s figured out the keys to the castle yet, but I think we’re getting closer on the science on behavior modification.

What you are seeing, as we move to value based care, is the market forces taking place. You’re going to see health care moving in to much lower-cost settings in the community and the shift to health care in the home. What’s most convenient for the patient? If we’re going to really be a consumer-driven industry, we’re going to do what’s convenient for you. Not what’s convenient for your doctor or your caregiver. Or your payer. And convenient for you is probably at your home, at your office, so that’s clearly where we’re moving.” ♥

Get Started

Find out how the WELL enterprise communication hub can make it easy to engage patients for a world-class clinical and administrative experience.