Transforming the Health Ecosystem: A Look Ahead

A look ahead at how healthcare will transform

HIMSS is ready to lead the transformation of health in 2020. We asked HIMSS President & CEO Hal Wolf, how the industry can reimagine health as one HIMSS and one world—together in 2020. The following is Hal’s perspective on what’s to come for next year.

What do you see as an emerging trend in health?

Heading into 2020, the global health ecosystem landscape looks like a sharper version of 2019. In 2019 there was a significant shift in advanced delivery systems, from a focus on technology to the use of information, from large monolithic application implementations to capable modules or unique add-on suites. This also included the addition of patient-focused applications that either reflect or project coordinated patient engagement between the medical model and the personalized health model.

In systems that have been deploying or laying the groundwork for electronic patient records, the dependencies are being shored up from both a technology and cultural perspective, often learning from the successes and mistakes of the systems that began the same journey just a few years before.

In short, the trends for 2020 are simply a sharper and more honed-in version of those introduced in 2019, but with a new urgency being driven by increased consumer expectations.

What needs to change in health to make this all possible?

As new technologies make their way into the workplace at unprecedented pace, a redesign of workflow and a general improvement on the design or configuration of the tools implemented needs to continue.

Concerns over the requirements of input of data taking away from the direct eye contact between patient and provider is real and in need of solutions. Information is only valuable if you can use it in an unobstructed way, and the heart of the information is the data collected, so a balance has to be created.

The answer is not less information, but how that information is collected, with voice-driven input as a singular example of innovation, is already underway. That said, there is recognition that email and telehealth, for example, open new channels that reflect previously suppressed demand by the patient for more consistent and accessible communication. To support the new channels, the workflow and accountabilities of clinicians need to be adjusted, or the days will get longer and work-life balance will suffer further in a losing game of personnel supply and demand.

What else should play a role in influencing health information and technology in 2020?

In 2020, the emphasis will be on increasing the acceleration of what already feels like significant change management in innovation, with a specific goal to more deeply understand the dependencies of digital health infrastructure against their strategy.

Looking end to end has never been more important, but focusing on making care available outside the traditional brick and mortar settings verses inside out, is imperative. This will result in increased calls for workforce development to complement operational redesign. As training improves and scaled deployments increase, the cries for improved interfaces and streamlining of applications will remain in 2020, as it did in 2019.

Think about the big disruptors in health and make some predictions about what moves they’ll make in 2020.

Disruptors are going to enter the market this year, at scale. The gaps that exist within care being delivered between the medical model and personal health model are now going to be exploited by firms that have deep pockets and excellent consumer experience working with their retail partners and benefit management entrepreneurs. The filling of those gaps will soon look like commodities with speed and cost efficiency.

System operators who are in the line of sight of these disrupters need to clearly see the gaps that will be filled in the next 12 to 18 months, and make a critical decision to try to fill them themselves or be prepared to strategize around them, or play off the disruptors. To me, owning the full end-to-end encounter and administration chain will be less important than understanding how to aggregate the end-to-end chain in order to maximize care quality, operational efficiency, improved knowledge management and customer satisfaction.

What’s next for health?

Get ready for the year of the disruptor, it’s here. The lessons the ecosystem absorbs from the advanced systems impacted will blaze a trail globally.

As always, the demand will be to innovate the delivery of care with the focus on the patient, with integration of tools and technology that provide them efficiencies for their end-to-end healthcare needs when and where they now demand it. But the stakes are getting higher and the playbook may well be rewritten faster than we previously thought.

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Originally published December 18, 2019