HIMSS 2018 is nearly here. While each year’s event is important in its own right, this year’s event according to HIMSS’s new president Harold Wolf III will assume a vital role in charting the future of healthcare in the United States.
In a recent interview Wolf noted that healthcare is about to enter a period of significant disruption. While most think of disruption in terms of the IT that’s changing how care is delivered, just think of the Telemedicine revolution, for Wolf the real disruption comes from delivering healthcare to an aging, yet long-lived population. In that interview Wolf said “We have silver tsunami…with 11,000 people per day in the United States reaching 65 years of age. As people live longer, their needs grow more expensive and chew through healthcare budgets. The bottom line is that the healthcare systems we have today are going to be underwater.”
Wolf’s prognostications go far beyond the old adage of expecting organizations to do more with less and suggest, instead, that we must radically rethink how healthcare is delivered. While all parts of the IT ecosystem undoubtedly helps in the delivery of better and more efficient patient care, what really lies at the heart of being able to thrive in a disruptive world is the ability to manage data and put it to work.
In his conversations leading up to HIMSS, Wolf has emphasized the foundational role that data plays in delivering this next-generation of healthcare. From training healthcare workers in how to use data to create better workflows for better patient care outcomes, to putting data from homebased devices to work to pre-empt costly hospital stays, to analyzing data to streamline billing processes, organizations need the right data and infrastructure to support them in this digital transformation.
Future Healthcare Today contributor, industry expert and former healthcare CIO, Joseph Hobbs, CHCIO, Senior Manager Epic Alliance at NetApp, encourages HIMSS attendees to see digital transformation as part of a data-driven journey that goes beyond how data is stored and focuses more on how data can be moved, managed, and applied securely across an organization. “While there’s been a strong push to get healthcare organizations to adopt new technologies, like AI-powered digital assistants, telehealth initiatives, and wearables, what good are these innovations and the accrual of more data if that data is siloed and can’t move to where it’s needed, or can’t be analyzed to deliver actionable directives for better patient outcomes?”
Instead of looking at these patient-facing tools first, Hobbs suggests that healthcare organizations start by identifying what their overall goals are and then build a data management infrastructure that will support both today’s needs and be able to manage growth. “Healthcare organizations can create petabytes of data in no time at all,” said Hobbs. “From Electronic Health Records to medical imaging, healthcare is already a data centric environment. As we add things like AI tools and Machine Learning we’re starting to put all the data to work, and we need the infrastructure to be able to operate without downtime or interruption because of the critical nature of healthcare.” he continued.
“Data management solutions like NetApp’s All Flash Systems speak to the need for both improved patient outcomes by facilitating access to patient records across an organization. They also help to lower the total cost of ownership which, in turn, helps reduce the overall costs of healthcare,” Hobbs shared speaking to Wolf’s concerns about managing the rising costs of healthcare. “Moreover,” he noted, “it provides a strong, scalable foundation for future projects, whether that’s moving to the cloud, or building a next-generation data center.”