Hungry for advanced technology: Observations from Q1 of 2015

Andrew Slotnick

HIMSS15 was just a few days ago, and now, amid over 1,000 of GE Healthcare’s Centricity™  users at Centricity LIVE in Orlando, FL, I am as convinced as ever that healthcare providers and administrators are hungry for next generation technology enabled solutions. From population health management to predictive financial analytics, the paradigm in healthcare IT is shifting. Large legacy systems that aggregate mass amounts of data and meet regulatory requirements, but do little more, still serve as a foundation for HCIT and are not going away. However, what I saw at HIMSS and now at Centricity LIVE is that providers and administrators alike require new age solutions that support strategic priorities within their organizations. Keeping in mind that the business of delivering healthcare isn’t getting any easier, the appetite for incremental innovation is extremely encouraging and represents emerging technologies as a cornerstone for tomorrow’s healthcare. Here are a few observations that lead me to that conclusion:

Momentum for innovative point solutions – I do not believe that healthcare is ready to support truly disruptive technology yet (and that’s ok.) Individual organizations may be prepared to make large investments into new technology systems, but these investments are earmarked to replace legacy systems and have been planned for years and do not always align with today’s priorities. What I observed is that niche solutions are capturing an overwhelming amount of interest from organizations that have identified specific needs or gaps within their current technology portfolio that they must fill to help achieve strategic goals.

Silos are coming down – Operating budgets are simply too small for organizations to continue to operate in clinical and financial silos. More than ever, it seems I am hearing clinical and financial personnel identify the other as a key decision maker for a decision that would have traditionally be made within the clinical or financial vacuum. And the perspective on that is clear; every investment, clinical or financial, must support the larger mission which includes both clinical and financial outcomes.

Time is money – Healthcare leaders are ready to invest time, human resources and money into removing cost from their operation. The key to this observation is that while investing in point solutions to support cost-saving initiatives, leaders are also re-training personnel across the organization to take on more meaningful tasks, which is opening opportunities for technology investments in areas such as patient engagement, analytics and customer service. Removing cost from the system is also a critical milestone for longer term goals, such as population health, risk sharing and expansion, and as long as technology supports that equation providers will be increasingly willing to invest the resources.

Who’s educating who – Consumers are significantly smarter and more informed than ever, upping the ante for vendors who hope to fulfill their needs for technology-enabled solutions. Analytics is a great example of a class of applications where consumers are becoming more knowledgeable and where technology is being held to a very high standard as a result. Let’s face it, Excel is often the brunt of the movement towards advanced analytics. And yes, it may be an older application and self-developed Excel® dashboards lack allure, but what I experienced first-hand at HIMSS is that it takes more than a slick user interface or a configurable dashboard for today’s consumer to give up on years of Excel® work. Analytics solutions are only as valuable as their practical application and consumers demand a strong ROI when it comes to investing in analytics, regardless of the maturity of the technology.

In my opinion these observations are extremely encouraging for the future of delivering better, more coordinated care and for maintaining the health of health systems. And while the appetite for advanced solutions seems to be at an all-time high, business models are also adapting, enabling provider organizations and technology vendors to make forward progress to support a shared goal of improving the quality of care while lowering the cost to deliver it.

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