Doctors using tablets

Healthcare IT for Human Outcomes

26 May 2015 by Mark Heuser

The energy at National Hospital Week, and last Wednesday was the start of National Nurses Week. These celebratory weeks, these conferences, all come and go. So the question is, why should we care, why should we engage?

To answer this question I’m going to circle back to HIMSS15 and focus on the takeaways. Because it’s not about the event itself. It is about what we learn. HIMSS15 was focused on innovation, patient-centric services and security — and these are three things that matter because, bottom line, they change healthcare and patient outcomes.

Innovation.

Technology in the healthcare space is inevitable — it is already integrated. When it comes to innovation, it isn’t just about what we are using but how we are using it. “We don’t need a new technology. We don’t need a new creation. We need to change the conversation on how to simplify health,” said Bruce Broussard, president and CEO of Humana. New inventions can and will transform healthcare but we need to be focused on partnerships with patients. This approach to innovation is what is becoming central to healthcare and is keeping patients, as well as the hospitals and business involved, healthy.

Patient-centric services.

Alex Gourlay, president of Walgreens, gave the keynote speech and he hit it on the head saying, “Today’s customers are more empowered than ever.” The modern day patient, through technology, is more equipped, more informed and more involved in their own, personal healthcare. According to the 2015 “HIMSS Mobile Technology Survey,” 73% of respondents indicated they had app-enabled patient portals in place. This is shifting the way the industry is innovating and interacting, and while positive patient outcomes have always been — and will continue to be — at the center of healthcare, it is about leveraging technology to create a patient-centric culture.

Security.

Security is important to any company in any industry — but this is especially true for healthcare. Data breaches cost companies millions of dollars every year, and when it comes to security in healthcare, it isn’t solely about money or even identity theft, but about protecting sensitive medical information. And hackers are focusing on the healthcare industry. Since 2009 the personal health record data of 120 million people has been compromised, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. And with the U.S. government requiring electronic health records for healthcare providers, paired with the imminent end of service for Microsoft Windows Server 2003, the spotlight is on security and healthcare.

These three topics make up the bones of HIMSS15. They matter because while we say “patient outcomes” in the industry, we are really talking about “human outcomes.” And human outcomes are why we, as a collective, are here. It is why we celebrate Hospital Week and Nurses Week. We want to support the men and women who are changing their communities through healthcare. And we need to stay focused on how we can work together to fuel that change. And when the healthcare industry fully embraces what human outcomes truly mean, innovation, patient-centric services and security will not be a topic of conversation at a large conference, but a vital course of action.