Thousands of healthcare technology professionals – from patients, to practitioners to technology providers – are set to gather in Orlando, Fla., later this month for the annual HIMSS conference, the largest and one of the most important healthcare IT conferences in the United States.
Perhaps the most crucial task facing healthcare technology professionals is the integration of applications and data among the diverse players in the healthcare ecosystem, including doctors, hospitals, insurers, employers, governmental organizations, device makers, pharmaceutical companies and patients.To sort through these IT challenges, we spoke with Sudhir Kulkarni of Persistent Systems, a Dell Boomi systems integration (SI) partner focused on software product development and technology services for the healthcare industry. As Persistent’s President of Digital, Kulkarni has his finger on the pulse of current healthcare technology innovations and trends.
In this exclusive Boomi Q&A, he discusses everything from the current state of digital transformation in healthcare, to the role technology providers play in improving the patient experience. Together, Persistent and Boomi are applying new approaches to data and application integration to address the major challenges facing the healthcare industry.
Below Part I of our two-part discussion with Kulkarni.
Visit Dell Boomi at HIMSS Booth #7461 to see a live demo of how our integration platform as a service (iPaaS) helps solve the unique challenges facing the healthcare industry. You can also meet with the Persistent Systems team at booth #7373 in generic area and kiosk #36 in Connected Healthcare Pavilion.
Boomi: How is digital transformation progressing in healthcare compared to other industries? Is healthcare ahead or behind?
SK: We’re definitely seeing some forward-thinking healthcare organizations embracing digital transformation and realizing some very promising results, especially in the area of patient engagement and research. But there have been headwinds, particularly regulatory issues that have created uncertainty – the Affordable Care Act (ACA) here in the United States, for instance. The ACA has impacted the entire healthcare landscape from reimbursement models to treatment methods, and with a new administration whose priority is to “repeal and replace” it, we’re not surprised at some hesitancy in the healthcare industry to move too fast on digital transformation initiatives.
Moving forward, we believe the shift from pay-for-service to pay-for-value will propel healthcare ahead of other verticals in their digital transformation journey.
Boomi: What’s the most immediate digital transformation benefit for healthcare organizations that are moving the process forward?
SK: On the immediate horizon, the biggest benefits are improving the patient experience and internal processes. But the strong reliance on people-driven processes is a stumbling block to rapid digital transformation. Outwardly focused transformation – giving tools to patients – is not a priority for a majority of health systems, but it is starting to become a focus area for elite organizations such as Hackensack University Medical Center, Louisiana Public Health Institute (LPHI) and Cleveland Clinic.
Boomi: How has technology helped to improve the overall patient experience?
SK: The implementations of electronic medical records (EMR) have allowed for greater data collection, which is positively impacting a lot of the planning and policy making for improving patient experiences. That said, the benefits of EMR implementations have come with new productivity challenges for many clinicians, with some spending as much as 25% of their time working with the EMR itself.
Boomi: What are some of the most pressing issues related to improving patient experience that still need to be addressed?
SK: The biggest problems, such as seamless transitions of care, are still a major hurdle. Patient experience is determined by the totality of patient care which is carried out by different entities within or outside a health system. Shared processes between clinical entities are possible only if there is free-flowing data between the entities.
Boomi: What are the most important next steps for technology providers as the healthcare industry shifts from a treatment model to a wellness model?
SK: Technology providers should focus on unlocking productivity by providing operational teams with tools that make their work effective and efficient. This unlocked productivity will allow more resources to be shifted to activities in wellness, helping move the system from reactive to proactive (preventive) care; this is exactly what the LPHI is doing!
In a sentence, we recommend organizations focus on interoperability, integration and actionable analytics that derive value from data. By way of example, researchers at Indiana’s School of Informatics and Computing are doing groundbreaking work to analyze terabytes of data across social media, such as Instagram and Twitter, to unlock better understanding of how patients interact with drugs, and how those drugs interact together.
In 2017 we will see pressure on healthcare provider margins. At the same time, the healthcare industry will need to continue to make significant investments in IT to stay ahead of the curve and address expected changes to Obamacare. This will lead to some consolidation among healthcare providers, making it imperative that digital transformation initiatives focus on interoperability and integrations through well-defined APIs.
Boomi: How are Dell Boomi and Persistent Systems helping solve these Healthcare-specific integration challenges?
SK: Dell Boomi is a powerful integration platform in the toolkit for healthcare IT teams, particularly when it comes to tackling core issues like creating a more seamless transition of care, ensuring data privacy, and facilitating the effective and efficient flow of information. Data integration is a pivotal element around which the benefits will be created.