Saturday, November 21, 2009

Guest Blog: WHIT 5.0

Written by my good friend (and boss), Micah Dylan:

Members of the VelocIT executive team participated in the World Healthcare IT Congress in Alexandria, VA this month. Bruce Fielding and Micah Dylan attended, and we sponsored Dave Burrill, from Wisdom Legacy, and Joyce Hunter, an executive consultant from Washington, DC, as co-attendees.
A few highlights from the show:
  • Bill Clinton spoke on the need to increase healthcare capacity in developing countries, but in the US we have to focus on removing rigidity from our healthcare system. It has become ossified due to a lack of standards that have locked easy flexibility and capability away from patients.
  • Newt Gingrich spoke about the problem of personal accountability and the type of programs and incentives that address individual, cultural, and organizational issues before financial ones. His new foundation, the Center for Health Transformation, is focused on these issues.
  • Dr. Donald Simborg from Health Level Seven (HL7) became our new hero when he said that "it's more important to agree on a standard than to find the perfect standard. The most value comes from simply having a standard and moving on. The Internet developed because we had TCP/IP, not because that was the best networking standard you could possibly have."
  • The 'last mile' problem from a local Health Information Exchange (HIE) to providers is probably the biggest technical hurdle. That encompasses standards, implementations, and adoption issues which may be insurmountable.
  • The move to a National HIE (NHIE) is extremely far off and 'unlikely in our lifetimes' according to some. The last mile problem looks more like the last light year.
  • Others are focused on orthogonal problems, such as leveraging the skills of healthcare experts to provide personalized healthare to the many rather than the few. One good example is, by a former Google VP.
  • Within existing systems, value needs to be increased by focusing on usability and better return on value to payers and providers through automation and business process improvements.
  • There has to be a focus on involving patients in their own care.  Several speakers noted that the largest savings in health care costs will stem from preventing conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and life-style related cancers.
-- Micah Dylan