I recently attended the New England HIMSS 2022 annual conference, and it was a great experience. It was my first time attending the event, and I met so many interesting people, had great conversations, and learned a lot. Now having some time to reflect on the event, three takeaways stood out to me that I thought were worth sharing.
Taking on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
I was very impressed that New England HIMSS included a discussion of this critical issue. The conversations focused on the fact that what is a good solution in one community doesn’t always work in another. They shared an example of a COVID-19 vaccine promotion that was not working in one Hispanic community because they were targeted at individuals. However, changing the message to saving older community members had much better effects. It’s a reminder that working in healthcare demands that we keep open minds and consider those that are unlike us in everything we do.
I also found that they offered some practical advice. For example, the panelists suggested that people seek experiences outside their home community. These experiences help expand our understanding and ability to help others.
They further highlighted the importance of not taking things too personally. Healthcare in general, and vaccination particularly, can present very high-pressure situations. Patients are under stress, often in an unfamiliar environment, and may react in ways that they might not in other cases. Those who may be emotional or hostile with their reactions need to be understood, and their comments should not be taken as a statement about the specific provider. Listening and being compassionate are critical tools in healthcare.
Remote Healthcare is Here to Stay
I was also fascinated by the presentations on home hospitals and pediatric mental health issues. In both cases, it was clear that remote healthcare is here to stay. The good news is that remote healthcare is advancing technically. Unfortunately, as is often the case, technology is outpacing insurance policies and reimbursement models. For example, the home hospital at Brigham and Women’s Hospital discussed issues with insurance not covering a nurse’s time for certain patients while they are in the home hospital. To take advantage of the advancements that technology is offering to advance health, insurance companies must keep pace. This is especially relevant to our work at Diameter Health, as we work with payers to integrate better, more actionable clinical data into their operational and business models.
One of the speakers, Dr. Caroline Yang, talked about the advantages of treating some patients in their natural environment. She told some very compelling stories about how seeing patients in their homes helped her understand their problems better. For example, seeing that one patient’s medications were unorganized and spread all over their house helped clarify why they were having issues with medication adherence.
Another challenge for home hospitals is the sheer volume of data they capture per patient. Identifying the signal from the noise is critical to reacting correctly. Connectivity is also still an issue when utilizing telehealth and remote monitoring technologies to their fullest.
The Age of Clinical Informatics is Here
All of the trends mentioned above rely on high quality, useable data. For example, regarding diversity, it was noted that if data on race and ethnicity is missing, it can be challenging to identify population trends and associated issues contributing to problems. On the other hand, quality data is critical to spreading equitable healthcare. In addition, interoperability, which further requires good data, allows providers to communicate and assist each other across social and economic divides.
In the case of remote and mental health care, the data involved is often not easily captured using existing codes. To better support remote patient care, it will become increasingly important for healthcare data to be interoperable so that providers can cover and consult. Also, they must be able to triage and bill effectively, both of which require good coding.
As we all adjust to the “new normal,” quality healthcare data and interoperability will be critical to addressing the problems in front of us. Diameter Health plays a vital role in the broader solution set that will enable a more robust healthcare data infrastructure. Our focus on Upcycling Data™ – the process of taking in multisource clinical data, normalizing, enriching, and summarizing it to create a standard, complete, and trustworthy clinical data asset – is foundational to any successful healthcare data initiative.
It is wonderful to see that organizations, including New England HIMSS, are paying attention to issues surrounding healthcare data optimization and facilitating meaningful conversations about how the healthcare industry can help.