PeraHealth Insights

3 Key Takeaways from Health IT Conferences

Health IT conferences provide a forum for healthcare professionals to discuss new ideas, gain valuable connections, and to showcase technological advancements. The pursuit of an innovative healthcare system and the urge to adopt new ways of thinking drives top hospitals to be focused on improving best practices. As healthcare continues to progress, it’s important to stay engaged and informed in a fast-paced industry.

Targeted at informatics professionals, the AMIA (American Medical Informatics Association) 2017 conference captures the breadth and depth of informatics and offers an important personal and professional educational experience. This year, I had the privilege to speak at the 2017 AMIA Conference, held in Washington, DC, on the importance of leveraging EHR data with the Pediatric Rothman Index (pRI), a statistically validated patient acuity score, applicable across all diseases and conditions. From health informatics to improving healthcare reform, technology continues to make a lasting impact in the healthcare industry.

With the rapid pace of technological evolution in health IT, it is imperative that institutions understand the value of addressing challenges and make necessary improvements to offer the highest quality healthcare.

Here are a few observations from this year’s conference:

1. Biomedical Informatics has gotten more complex:

Many presentations included analysis using advanced methods (moving beyond logistic regression): Bayesian Networks, Natural Language Processing, Deep Learning (Neural Networks, Random Forest, Constrained Regression such as LASSO), Feature Extraction using large data sets. However, the transition from academic studies to real-world applications is minimal. Hospitals have trouble just running their operations and implementing very simple rule-based decision support. One intriguing example of a complex approach was the “deep-patient”, defined as a patient whose characteristics are described in terms of “features” extracted from a large EMR dataset. Although it provides a compact description of a patient, it’s a long way from providing utility in data analysis.

2. An important comment about modeling from a session on top papers of the year:

Collaborating with patients and practitioners when developing predictive risk models will not by itself solve some of the other conundrums in this area, such as which interventions should be delivered for which risk groups, or how those interventions should be resourced, evaluated and improved. Yet, the first step in any quality improvement project consists of understanding the nature of the problem at hand, and this understanding requires close working between analytical teams, healthcare practitioners and patients. The predictive modelling enterprise would benefit enormously from such collaboration because “the real goal of this activity lies not in predicting the risk of readmission, but in identifying patients at risk for preventable readmissions and ‘impactible’ by available interventions.” A. Steventon & J Billings, BMJ Quality & Safety, 2017.

3. Key observations from healthcare thought leaders on the future of healthcare:

  • “No one wants to be the last CIO to spend $1 billion on an enterprise EMR”- CEO, AthenaHealth
  • “We’re still buying 20-year-old technology and taking 3 years to install it”- Director of Computation Health, Harvard
  • “Physicians show a high variability in admission decisions”- InterMountain Health referring to admissions for community acquired pneumonia
  • “Google buys startup that turns smartphones into diagnostic tools”-Mobile Health has a high profile
  • “Rather than eliminating clicks, why not collect less information… make the world simpler” –Michael Rothman

Broaden your horizons, welcome new change and dive into the importance of emerging technologies making waves in healthcare. By acknowledging improvements in speed, quality, and safety behind clinical information, health IT conferences offer great value to those who attend. I benefit a great deal from the health IT conferences I attend annually, and I look forward to attending next year’s event as I continue to share my knowledge on enhancing communication among care-givers. What’s next? The IHI National Forum coming up next month, Dec 10-13 in Orlando, FL. This year’s conference is focused on improving quality in healthcare and if you plan on attending let’s connect at booth #405.

One closing thought:

Interesting work on simplifying the interfaces to an EMR, measuring the cognitive load involved in navigating via pupil dilation studies.– Elizabeth Borycki – U of Victoria