These posts are written to summarize what I learned participating in the annual meeting of Medecision and the company’s partners, held March 27-29, 2018 at the Ritz-Carlton in Dallas, TX. – Jane
Part 1: Liberating healthcare through data liquidity and consumer engagement
“Today, right now, you have more power at your fingertips than entire generations that came before you. That’s what technology really is: possibility, adaptability, capability. In the end, it’s only a tool. What’s a hammer without a person who swings it? It’s not about what tech can do: it’s about what you can do with it,” Common, the poet and performer, riffed on a video promoting AI in healthcare on behalf of Microsoft.
That’s how Deb Gage, CEO of Medecision, set the stage for Liberation 2018, the company’s fifth annual meet-up of clients and collaborators all focused on using technology to make healthcare, and patients, better.
I attended the meeting as a blend of “emcee,” storyteller and trend-weaver throughout the day-and-a-half meeting, which felt more like a salon of smart people sharing ideas in a welcoming, artful setting. Talented musicians, an inspiring poet, a clever rap artist from New York City, and a fuchsia-pink themed setting of comfortable sofas, coffee tables, and continuous supplies of great coffee and teas provided an environment that was safe and welcoming for sharing our collective learnings about what’s working, and what’s not, when it comes to technology in healthcare.
“In healthcare, we have a trail of tears behind us,” Deb confessed to the attendees. “We’ve experienced EMR rollouts and Meaningful Use mandates, but what is the value?”
Then in a poll of the audience, we learned from each other what’s mostly standing in our way as a barrier to making progress in liberating healthcare: the fear of risk.
We know patients are morphing into healthcare consumers, expecting healthcare providers, plans and payers to “Amazon up.” This was the theme of my own keynote, The Amazon Prime-ing of the Health Consumer, which is increasingly the patient’s benchmark experience for all other personal workflows of daily living, from reserving tables at restaurants to avoiding traffic jams and organizing music playlists. [To learn more about this trend, here’s a link to one of my recent Health Populi posts on the growing role of Amazon in healthcare].“So why not app-ify ‘my’ healthcare?” – Patients, now consumers, ask the industry.
During Liberation 2018, we heard many stories and case studies about how technology can be conceived, designed and deployed to indeed liberate both patients and providers.
That starts with the right data, often called the “new oil” in business. Increasingly, data, and data liquidity, are becoming that secret in the make-healthcare-better sauce.
A key lesson came from Jeanne Cohen, founder and CEO of Motive Medical Intelligence. “We are in the information business not the data business,” Jeanne observed. “Most Big Data are dumb,” she warned. “Don’t get distracted by the volume.” Use what bits are relevant for the question and objective at hand, which means “right-sizing” the data. Think of this as a new form of portion control.
Another important take on the use of data is workflow. Kristen Daley, director of value-based programs at Centura, presented a compelling talk about how re-designing workflow can have a major impact on both patient outcomes and costs, along with streamlining care providers’ lives. These are the elements of the Quadruple Aim, made manifest in the collaborative teamwork at Centura for the bundled payments program for total joint replacement. Through segmenting and detailing workflow into evaluation/decision (identifying high-risk patients up-front), pre-admission, inpatient stay, and post-discharge components, the program realized improved patient outcomes and lower costs: the average episode cost fell to $16,649 in January 2016 compared with a high of $21,904 in April 2013.
A third example of using smart data in a Big Data healthcare environment came via Melissa DeGoede, Director of Population Health at Security Health Plans, part of the Marshfield Clinic. The organization elected to make a major investment in a business intelligence team. Note that the Clinic’s target market is largely rural. The need for using data, smartly, knows no geography. It’s a strategic and necessary competency for all providers in the move from fee-for-service to value-based payments and providers’ ability to take on financial risk.
Dr. Don Rucker of ONC was the concluding speaker at Liberation 2018, explaining how the 21st Century Cures Act will underpin the technology strategy to enable U.S. healthcare to move into the value-based regime – especially by driving interoperability through three use cases he described as:
- Getting medical records from “Doctor A to Doctor B, from a hospital bed or ER to a specialty clinic or primary care provider,
- Patients owning and controlling their medical records; and,
- Agreeing standard interfaces for population level data.
“Interoperability will help drive the medical economy to behave like rest of economy,” Dr. Rucker forecasted. Ultimately, Dr. Rucker noted, patients are “the massive use-case for interoperability.”
About the author
Jane Sarasohn-Kahn is a health economist, advisor and trend-weaver to organizations focused at the intersection of health, technology and people – especially consumers, patients and caregivers. She is the founder of THINK-Health and the Health Populi blog, and serves on the advisory boards of CanSurround, CAQH’s U.S. Health Efficiency Index, the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement at George Washington University, healthBank, Stupid Cancer, WEGO Health, and Women of Color in Pharma. In her community of Phoenixville, PA, Jane sits on the Board of The Clinic, a free clinic for residents. Jane is a frequent speaker, listed with AHA’s Speakers Express and Executive Speakers Bureau, as well as a contributor to the Huffington Post. Jane holds an MA (Economics) and MHSA (Health Policy) from University of Michigan.