How Tech Is Making Healthcare More Human: Notes on the HLTH Conference

By Mark Clermont, CFO, Lumeon

The Lumeon team had a fantastic experience at the HLTH conference in Las Vegas this week. The event provides an excellent forum for decisionmakers and influencers in healthcare to talk, learn, and collaborate on solutions to the most pressing challenges in the industry. 

We talked to a lot of folks over the course of several days, and it was clear from what we heard that healthcare systems are focused on improving the patient experience and on finding ways to automate repeatable elements of clinical delivery. Healthcare organizations are maturing in their EMR projects and are now releasing that pent-up IT demand to initiate clinical execution and patient experience-based projects, with automation as the top priority. 

Lumeon helps solve both those challenges, so we found a lot of interest in what we do and had many fruitful discussions about how we partner with healthcare organizations to institute better care pathway management.  

Beyond the primary idea that the healthcare industry is increasingly focused on patient experience and improving efficiencies, we gained several key insights on industry trends from the event. Here are a few that stood out:  

 

1. A push to automate the full continuum of care 

In a stark change from what we heard just a few years ago, there is now broad recognition that care delivery extends beyond the four walls of the hospital, ambulatory surgery center (ASC), or exam room. A representative of large health system acknowledged that more than 50 percent of its patient encounters occur outside of the hospital – typically in ASCs – a big increase from 25 percent just four years ago, and an indication of the increasing diversity of care pathways.   

Those looking at such trends see the need to create a seamless experience across the continuum of care that extends into various settings, from the hospital to ASCs to the patient’s home. But they also acknowledge that doing so is difficult — if not impossible — without automation. Many organizations now find themselves at a tipping point at which they have proven the value of care pathways but simply cannot manage pathways efficiently or scale without the help of automation. 

2. A strong interest in leveraging data  

Clinical data is more available than ever, and some administrators are successfully transforming data into insight to help govern their organizations and the care they provide. Healthcare organizations increasingly want to draw actionable insight from data, but they want to do so without further burdening care teams. Tools like Lumeon’s care pathway management platform can help by offering off-the-shelf solutions that use data to transform care delivery in real-time 

3. A need to harness exploding innovation 

Innovation is alive and well, and is coming to a healthcare organization near you. The vendors at the HLTH conference demonstrated extraordinary innovations in patient experience, revenue cycle, and AI. Unlike in the past, many of these innovations were near-future products that are already producing early results. It will be exciting to see how these unique innovations will be plugged into the patient care continuum. Interestingly, as Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, noted in her keynote, healthcare policy is leading the innovation charge. 

 One challenge for clinicians in this rapidly changing technological landscape is managing all of these point solutions and making sure that service lines are not tripping over each otherWithout proper coordination, it’s easy to end up like one health system we heard about, which had instructed a team of nurses to do patient outreach to help address missing lab values. One patient reported being contacted six times by the nurse team over the course of a single week, once for each missing data point. 

 4. Non-healthcare companies joining the field 

 Everyone is getting into healthcare these days — even non-healthcare companies like Mastercard, Bose, Best Buy, and CNBCMastercard proclaimed that healthcare is at least a generation behind financial services and made a big splash with the announcement of its Brighterion service focused on improving the healthcare payment process. Bose attended the conference to showcase its effort to design better hearing aids, noting how recent policy changes have opened the door for consumers to directly purchase the devices.

 

Many of the trends we saw at the conference focus on “human-centered design” — an idea that looking at patient experience in healthcare requires seeing the whole patient in context and acting accordingly.   

It may seem ironic that increasing automation is the best way to make healthcare more human, but it makes perfect sense: Making the patient experience consistent, streamlined, sensitive to particular variables, and able to be carried out without confusion and human error provides a friction-free environment in which clinicians can focus more wholly and sensitively on the patient in front of them.