Before busy media meetings and quality time with clients, my FINN colleague Olivia Schlabach joined the Patient Experience Symposium while I attended the AMDIS/HIMSS Physicians Executive Symposium during the first day of HIMSS22. Quite different stories and challenges covered in each room. But both with a mission to improve healthcare and the patient-clinician experience.

As the keynote discussions in the Patient Experience Symposium made predictions for what’s ahead—visions for a new patient experience and innovation—speakers in the Physicians’ Executive Symposium discussed more practical “here and now” topics including information blocking rules, data analytics and the journey to value.

The symposium was a stark reminder that while the health IT industry makes progress in remote patient monitoring, digital front door and telehealth, physicians need practical help with the less glamorous yet important aspects of patient care.

Following a session on “New Level of Openness Equals a New Level of Care,” few physicians

stood up to ask questions about how to implement a shiny digital health tool. Instead, they wanted to know the ins and outs of information blocking compliance, what it entails and how to avoid being an offender.

Data analytics was another hot topic throughout the day. Gartner vice president Mandi Bishop reviewed the top five concerns in healthcare. One of Bishop’s recommendations was to prioritize real-time, on-demand data technologies that allow care providers to access the information they need and when they need it.

Physician executive symposium speaker Amy Ho, MD, MPH aligned with that advice as she encouraged physicians to embrace data analytics and business intelligence to make more informed healthcare decisions. Dr. Ho denounced the old theory that doctors only know medicine, not data, by telling her colleagues in the room, “No one knows the EMR better than we do because we’re in it all day.”

And then came the term we all love to hate – interoperability. Physicians use the word too!

During the conference the Healthcare Leadership Council (HLC) unveiled a report offering proposed assessment criteria that provide a different way to assess interoperability. The HLC’s efforts to expand measurements of interoperability focus on several areas, including patient-facing data exchange, electronic public health reporting, and cross-network information exchange. These areas have proven to be somewhat difficult to gauge with current approaches.

For instance, the physician symposium sessions I attended focused on access to data and making the most of it. Aside from the “meaningless use” comment dropped by an attendee, physicians appeared encouraged by a presenter who shared how he used structured data to better monitor quality outcomes. 

The use of data was again highlighted as part of the journey to value-based care, including how more time can be spent with patients when the compensation model moves away from fee-for-service when data is correctly leveraged (e.g. for risk adjustment).

My overall impression is that our world’s healers strive to effectively care for their patients while also mastering change. They want practical, actionable advice unclouded by futuristic predictions. Lofty technological ambitions may have their place, but for now physicians simply want to decode information blocking rules and manage their unstructured data.

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