Feature | Analytics Software | June 01, 2016 | Melinda Taschetta-Millane

Trends and Technology at HIMSS 2016

The need for improved efficiency in healthcare and the new requirements of U.S. healthcare reform have rapidly made the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) annual meeting into one of the largest medical conferences in the world. The major themes this year included how to leverage technology to implement population health initiatives, analytics software, patient engagement, improving connectivity and data/image sharing between disparate IT systems and outside physicians, and how to improve workflow efficiency. 

Analytics software and population health were hot topics this year. With healthcare now migrating to electronic medical record platforms, this data can be mined for business uses such as better management of inventory, procedural room use, imaging utilization, staff performance, radiation dose management, monitoring factors for patient satisfaction and to help identify bottlenecks in patient discharge, door-to-balloon times, STAT radiology reads, and what contributes to poor or improved patient outcomes. This data has been available for years at many facilities, but it is the new level of analytics software integration that now makes data mining possible for all these things on one screen using one program. 

However, technology is now much more sophisticated than simply pulling data on what has already happened, and can now help predict what will happen. This is the premise of the new IT arena of population health management. If all the risk factors are known for poor clinical outcomes or that lead to re-admissions, they can be tracked using software for all patients to determine who should be allocated additional, scarce resources. This is especially true for high-cost, high-readmission conditions such as heart failure, COPD and diabetes, or high-volume emergency department (ED) patient presentations, such as chest pain. 

Some software vendors are taking this model to the next level of predictive analytics using health system-wide data or regional health data exchanges to mine thousands of data points to determine which patients in a county or region would be ideal candidates for pre-emptive care. This includes identifying who might be qualified for computed tomography (CT) lung cancer screenings, or who should receive calls from healthcare outreach programs to prevent everything from low-birth weight babies in low-income areas, to identifying heart failure patients before they ever present with acute symptoms in an ED.

Patient engagement has become a major topic of discussion as providers try to figure out how to leverage IT to meet this Stage 3 Meaningful Use requirement. Another Stage 3 requirement is the use of clinical decision support (CDS) software to help reduce the number of unnecessary or inappropriate exams. 

You can see some of these trends online by viewing Editor's Choice of Most Innovative New IT at HIMSS 2016. In this editorial video, ITN Editor Dave Fornell takes a tour of some of the most innovative new trends and health information technologies on the expo floor at HIMSS. Technologies include radiation dose management, wearables, patient engagement, admission kiosks, analytics software and imaging workflow aids.

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