HIMSS Montana Spring Conference Recap: Transforming Rural Health for Patient Data Needs

This past month has been busy with regional HIMSS events across the country. The Stoltenberg team took part in several, and today we'll be recapping the 2019 HIMSS Montana Spring Conference.

Hosted in Missoula, the two-day HIMSS Montana Spring Conference aligned with the theme "Transforming Health," focusing on digital transformation progress amidst value-based care demands. Major topics included streamlining healthcare data exchange through HIEs, ease of patient access to data, and the future of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) for health and wellness.

Conference Keynote

The new real-time patient experience expands beyond the clinic. Anne Weiler, the CEO of Wellpepper and Montana HIMSS keynote speaker, presented "The Power of Voice Interfaces for Patient Care," centered on the idea of utilizing voice AI and ML in patient care. Examples in the patient's home include Alexa or Google Home to schedule appointments, give medication reminders, update prescription refills, check BP/heart rate and log daily weight. Voice interface utilization in the patient's home and doctors' offices allows ease of access and better understanding of discharge instructions to ultimately improve patient care, patient outcomes, care follow up and medication adherence. The information gathered in the patient's home can be integrated with provider facilities to convey a more accurate picture of the patient's condition and ability to follow care instructions at home.

Takeaway Questions

  • Is your data readily available?
  • Can it be easily shared?
  • Is it secure?
  • Do your patients know how to access their data?

Key Conference Takeaways

The biggest takeaway from the conference was the importance of interoperability between providers, payers and patients. All three facets must be actively engaged in data exchange for truly coordinated care across the continuum. Since Montana hospitals (and the intermountain area in general) are typically located in more rural areas, there is a large disconnect in how to get records from one provider to another, even within larger hospital systems. Conference discussions touched on several stories of patient care being delayed by hours and even days as providers waited for medical records. Some even experienced malpractice due to mismanagement of pain for the same reason. Others waited weeks for mediation to be authorized through their providers and insurance. These patients felt helpless in their delay of care, when patient portal access and education could have eliminated data obstacles. In consumer-driven healthcare, patient expectations are evolving. What are providers doing to keep up with patients' real-time connected health needs?