Four Major Healthcare IT Trends from HIMSS Annual Conference Continuing Throughout 2019

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The following four topics stood out as major conversation pieces at the HIMSS19 Annual Conference in Orlando. With significant industry announcements revealed around them, these trends are sure to stay in headlines throughout the rest of the year.

  1. Healthcare data exchange- Jumpstarting HIMSS19, the CMS and ONC unveiled the long-anticipated information blocking rule, requiring both healthcare providers and plans to implement open data sharing technologies to support transitions of care. Medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program, Medicare Advantage and Qualified Health Plans in the federally-facilitated exchanges must provide patients with immediate electronic access to medical claims and other health information by 2020. Under the new rule, health information exchanges (HIEs) and health information networks can be penalized up to $1 million for lack of interoperability, but providers are not subject to fines. The proposed rule calls for standardized application programming interfaces (APIs) and carries forward provisions from the 21st Century Cures Act. The goal of the new rule is to consider care across the entire continuum, giving patients greater control and understanding of their health journeys.

  2. Putting the value in value-based care- Within Stoltenberg's seventh annual HIT Industry Outlook Survey conducted at HIMSS, a majority of participants (mostly representing provider health systems) identified value-based care progress as the most significant health IT industry topic in 2019, followed by artificial intelligence and cybersecurity. From improved patient portal education and experiences to better interoperability between business office and patient care initiatives, realistically optimizing processes for meaningful data insights is key for value-based care success. As the provider market shifts with mergers and facility acquisitions, organizations need to more seamlessly integrate new facilities without losing sight of ongoing health system momentum. At the same time, patient want more transparent access to their health data and billing information in a consumer-driven healthcare market. Stay tuned for additional insight related to this topic coming soon from the HIT Industry Outlook Survey final report.

  3. Cybersecurity- Healthcare cybersecurity still weighs heavily on concerned providers amidst the continuous evolution of ransomware and breach efforts in the healthcare industry. Released during HIMSS19, the HIMSS Annual Cybersecurity Survey identified "bad actors," such as cybercriminals and others with malicious intent, as the source of most security incidents. Online scam artists are the most frequently cited threat in 2019, while negligent insiders contribute to significant security incidents. Almost 60 percent of survey respondents cited email as the common point for compromising private information, yet 36 percent of non-acute care organizations claimed their facilities do not conduct phishing tests.

  4. Artificial intelligence- Attendees saw use cases for artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning integration into clinical decision support all across HIMSS19. As opposed to replacing the role of clinicians, these capabilities are now presented as a means to enhance clinical operations. During HIMSS19, IBM Watson Health announced a 10-year $50 million investment in AI research partnerships with Brigham and Women's Hospital and Vanderbilt University Medical Center to improve the utility of EHRs and claims data and to address significant public health issues like patient safety, precision medicine and health equity. Amidst the AI conversation, while most applaud the potential of actionable clinical insights, others call for better regulations and standards for evaluating AI-based algorithms.

Stay tuned as we continue to evaluate these trends throughout 2019.