Simplifying Healthcare in 2016

by Linda Stotsky Health IT Thought Leader, Consultant and Patient Advocate @EMRAnswers

Healthcare and health IT have been deluged with regulatory initiatives, system complexity, patient access and shifting priorities. It is important that we refine our focus in 2016, and get back to basics.

  • How can we improve the health of patient populations without the complexity of patient access?
  • How do we engage clinicians and stakeholders without additional regulatory initiatives? 
  • How do we connect system silos and advance interoperability within our vendor communities?

While at HIMSS16, I look forward to exploring the many ways vendors, physicians and industry thought leaders plan to simplify healthcare through advanced technology, vendor offerings, patient access and improved outcomes.

These priorities are important to me as a member of the health IT community, a patient advocate and an educator, and I plan to address them during HIMSS16.

How do we simplify innovation to “fit” the communities we serve?

Innovation requires change. Yet, each part of the value chain requires a potentially different approach. As we adapt the systems in use today, how can we include more diverse, multi-cultural, multi-generational voices, in the change process?

Change is more than implementation of a new system or portal. Providing the right message at the right time to people where they are, instead of where you want them to be, can bring tremendous value to patients and families.

How do we simplify technology to advance interoperability?

HL7’s SMART on FHIR, an open-source API specification designed to integrate apps with electronic health records,  portals, health information exchanges, and other clinical applications is gaining a lot of attention, and vendors are accepting interoperability as an essential component of patient care.

Continued success in integrating health IT depends on universal standards that advance interoperability, promote sharing of standardized content, and align to existing reimbursement models, therefore, reducing the dissatisfaction of providers because of missing features and functionality.

By using data-driven solutions to pre-populate forms and assessments, by accessing data in disparate systems, by connecting information silos beyond the four-walls of our facilities and EHR systems, we can improve inefficiencies, reduce provider disengagement, readmission rates and patient safety errors and align to the needs of patients in the communities we serve.

Simplify patient access and education

Patients want to engage with their health data. They want access to their information, worded in everyday language with easy-to-identify recommendations for follow-up and education, displayed in a manner that makes sense (visually, texturally or aesthetically) , in native language, accessible via a preferred method of delivery (email, text, portal or print).

Patients understand medical instructions better when spoken to slowly and delivered with simple words and in everyday language. For optimal comprehension and medical compliance, patient education materials should be written at a sixth-grade or lower reading level, include pictures and words, with color coding and easy-to-understand illustrations and physician comments.

The stakeholders who need to be addressing / advancing these perspectives:

  • CIOs and industry thought leaders
  • Developers and integrators in health IT systems and services
  • Physicians, clinicians and healthcare organizations
  • Patients, caregivers and consumers
  • Regulatory organizations (ONC, HHS, FDA HL7 and others)
  • Vendors (EHR, EMR, HIE, portal technologies, mHealth, telehealth and secure mMessaging)

Obstacles to Achievement:

  • Vendor development silos
  • Lack of universal interoperability standards
  • Language, literacy and educational Levels
  • Universal standards for interoperability
  • Universal health portals with ALL health-related information in one place

Addressing these perspectives at HIMSS16:

Achieving Sustainable Clinical Innovation: Easier said than done

A Connected Hospital and Connected Community Partnership

A Case Study on Creating a Learning Health System

The Intelligent Health Pavilion 2016

Sylvia Mathews Burwell- Secretary of Health and Human Development


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