At the 2017 HIMSS Annual Conference & Exhibition, we captured new ideas and perspectives on HIT from attendees. One such person is Matt Fisher, a HIMSS17 Social Media Ambassador and chair of the Health Law Group at Massachusetts-based Mirick O’Connell. We caught up with him following his trip to Orlando and posed questions related to HIT in 2017 and the changing role of electronic health records (EHRs) at the point of care.
What were the major trends and themes you observed at HIMSS17?
A major theme was making data actionable to succeed in a value-based care environment. Value-based care requires providers to understand the meaning behind data that are collected and to break that data apart for insights. Without an ability to analyze data, providers will not be able to succeed. With that in mind, I heard a lot of discussion about value-based care and usable solutions. After mostly hype and lip-service in prior years, it was clear that the industry got the message and created tools that will help providers succeed in a value-based care world.
I also found that privacy and security issues received higher billing at HIMSS17 than at prior HIMSS Annual conferences. The increased emphasis was evident in the Cybersecurity Command Center that took over a corner of the Exhibit Hall, where much of the focus was around security exposure within healthcare and the need to increase protective measures. In my opinion, the fact that security received such focus at HIMSS17 indicates progress and will hopefully keep the topic at the forefront throughout the rest of the year.
What did you most enjoy learning about at HIMSS17?
An area that sticks out to me is the rising patient voice. In speaking with individuals like fellow HIMSS17 Social Media Ambassador Vanessa Carter, I had the unique opportunity to learn about how patients view health IT solutions, what people who regularly interact with the healthcare industry face and, in turn, what is needed for improvement. To me, this inclusion of all points of view was important and will hopefully only grow in the future.
What are your predictions for HIT in 2017?
I predict that HIT companies will start listening more closely to the voice of the customer, whether that customer is a patient or a provider. This will ensure they develop products that meet new customer need and demand, not simply adhere to strict regulatory requirements. Regulations have driven adoption and implementation of HIT, but what was put into place did not necessarily streamline healthcare workflows. We’ll see more refinement this year, especially with respect to customer needs.
As an attorney, what’s your interest in HIT and value-based care?
Attorneys are interested in the new exposure payers and providers face as they implement HIT and value-based care models. For HIT, the most common questions usually involve HIPAA, especially how these provisions guide the investment and iimplementation of HIT. I typically counsel that HIPAA should help and guide HIT development, not hinder it. HIPAA provides a framework that can help with baseline standards. Once I begin explaining how HIPAA works, however, the person to whom I’m speaking immediately grasps the possibilities. Value-based care conversations are different, however: The focus is on avoiding complications under the primary fraud and abuse laws, the Stark Law and Anti-Kickback Statute. These laws and statutes can seemingly conflict with value-based care goals, such as care coordination and affiliation, making it more challenging to structure new models and programs. Value-based care agreements are also highly complex, and clarity is critical to all parties involved. Clear documentation up front can save significant time, cost and aggravation later.
Do you see an expanding or changing role for EHRs at the point of care?
To realize the promise, EHRs must adapt to the workflows of individual healthcare practices. The important interaction between providers and patients mustn’t be compromised. And I don’t believe scribes should not be necessary to support the technology. I do believe that EHRs will change, however, which will lead to expansion. The current EHRs should be viewed as the first or second iteration and, as is true with any technology, it takes time before a solution actually achieves its initial promise.