In mid-August, I had the pleasure of joining our Asia Pacific colleagues in Bangkok, Thailand, for HIMSS AsiaPac16, which is our flagship event for the region. It was three days of world-class education, a dynamic exhibition hall of the major companies operating in the region, and a great opportunity for networking with peers from over 25 countries. Along with more than 1,500 other health IT professionals, I believe we all came away with a renewed sense of purpose and value in bringing better health through technology to the patients and citizens served.
Thailand’s healthcare sector is growing—FAST! The healthcare spend in that country has grown by 46% over the last five years. Medical tourism was estimated to generate over $3B USD in 2015, a 15% year-over-year growth. More than 80% of the Thai healthcare organizations surveyed by HIMSS are engaged in health IT transformation projects.
Advancing Digital and Patient-Centered Care
The overall theme of HIMSSAP16 was Advancing Digital and Patient-Centered Care, which is very much in line with the trajectory of healthcare in the AsiaPac region. Many AsiaPac countries—Singapore, India, Korea, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia, are going SMART (and by a SMART hospital, I am referring to an intelligent healthcare facility that is digitally enabled and connected, while deploying available technologies, such as automation and sensory, to improve outcomes and patients experience).
Also, digital technology adoption is in the top 5 for healthcare in the region along with medical tourism, outpatient surgery, specialty hospitals, and private medical insurance. Patient-centered care is also an emerging delivery philosophy in the region, as providers work to drive better quality and value to the patients they serve.
So within this broad theme, what did we hear and learn about?
Well, there were sessions on applying better data for better health, including talks on clinical and business intelligence, Electronic Medical Record Adoption ModelSM, genomic medicine, population health and prevention. We also heard presentations from across the globe on moving closer to your patient with talks on the Internet of Things, patient engagement, physician connectivity, and telemedicine.
And there was much, much more:
- Cybersecurity sessions were packed as were sessions on transformative care models.
- Hospital tours showcased nearby institutions that are employing the very best in information systems and technology.
Plus, we recognized EMRAM Stage 6 and Stage 7 recipients:
At Stage 6 the Institute of Mental Health Singapore, Paknampo Hospital in Bangkok and Bangkok Hospital. The Institute of Mental Health Singapore is the first psychiatric hospital outside of North America to achieve this global benchmark, and Paknampo and Bangkok Hospital are the first two hospitals in Thailand to achieve this world-class standard of health IT adoption. All three recipients are breaking barriers with their Stage 6 achievements.
We also recognized one EMRAM Stage 7 Award recipient, Seoul National University Bundang Hospital in Seoul, South Korea that revalidated their Stage 7 award achieve a few years ago.
The Value of Health IT
Asia Pacific’s healthcare IT communities are rapidly developing but still very young. The organizations and individuals that I met and spoke with serve as examples and role models to emulate. They provide direction toward maximizing the potential of IT to improve clinical care outcomes and business sustainability. They demonstrate that factors, such as improving patient safety, decreasing lengths of hospital stay, reducing error and increasing workforce effectiveness, must continue to remain top priorities for why we utilize technology in delivering care.
All this sound familiar? These are the same topics, recognitions, quality objectives and challenges that we talk about in the US, Europe and everywhere HIMSS goes. While we have different styles of health- care ownership, payment and structures around the world, we also have significant commonalities—health IT is a primary strategic asset to make people’s health better!