The Value of Connection and Learning at Health IT Conferences

At conferences and healthcare IT events some are searching for learning, and some are searching for connection. This month I’ve been able to attend several events and asked a number of people about the value they found from connections at the events. What did they value? Whether it be a technology company searching for physicians to partner with or a physician practice searching for learning about healthcare data, the people at a given event bring value.

I wanted to hear about what other people thought of the conference. Overwhelmingly, the most important part of conferences, according to the people that I connected with, was the conversations.

To get a more specific idea, I asked a few healthcare leaders what value they found.

Ryan Plasch weighed in on the annual conference for the American Medical Group Association (AMGA). Plasch’s company Saykara has a technology that uses Natural Language Processing (NLP) to help reduce time in electronic health records. How do they see the future of reducing physician workload?  Can conferences where vendors can experience barriers to entry or make connections with physicians help?

Ryan Plasch and Saykara on AMGA:

“The AMGA conference gave us the opportunity to have direct contact with physicians. We hear their pain points related to the EHR, and in turn discuss how Saykara provides a solution.  AI and NLP are now used to organize clinical data erasing the stress of inputting data into the EHR. As it frees them from this time-devouring task, it relieves a cognitive burden allowing for a more balanced overall life/work mix. It’s at conferences like AMGA, where we can communicate this potent message.

Our favorite part of the conference is contact with doctors. We are able to hear about their concerns and issues that make their job difficult. They talk about wanting more time to focus on the patient but are bogged down in the morass of data entry.

The future of Voice AI/NLP will continue to advance rapidly as a viable solution to address burnout.  We always hear that the clinicians spend 2 times more time with the EHR than with the patient. AI/NLP is turning that number around.  We see doctors freeing up from the note and moving back towards the original way of doing their job, ie, patient-centric contact. Advances in AI will allow for predicting the content of a note based on the Chief Complaint furthering the automation of the process. We see a bright future where the quality of the doctor/patient encounter will markedly increase resulting in happier patients and doctors.”

Julie Mann, Holon Solutions

For Holon Solutions, conferences with networking opportunities to share value-based care success brings a lot of value. We can be part of the analytics solution for any IT company, with their technology to surface meaningful patient insights at the point of care. For our clients, user workflow matters. As a provider, if you know your patient needs a test after they leave your office, that knowledge doesn’t help you. We went to AMGA to network with leading executives in value-based care.  We also invited many to join us in celebration of our partnership with Banner|Aetna. They have activated their analytics into the workflow and are a strong example of payer-provider collaboration. Their Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Robert Groves, joined us to share their story. We wanted to get together with people who are adding positively to healthcare and celebrate that physicians can have usable data at the point of care.

Physicians need to have timely access to patient data. If they know a patient is at risk of having poor diabetes treatment, the best time to know that is at the point of care, when it can be discussed and acted on.  Every conference we want to celebrate the successes of healthcare organizations that improve care. We reduced time physicians spent on administrative tasks, by eliminating their need to access a provider portal to see critical information about their patients.  Instead, we automatically present this information to them, while they are with the patient. This is a substantial time-savings for the physician, empowers them with the information they need, and as a result, also improves the patient’s experience. That is something to celebrate.

It is important to take time to learn about the problems that remain for physicians and patients, and to find like minded individuals who understand the work. Technology really can create better care for patients when blended into a strategic plan.

Dr. Ben Zaniello, CMO of Collective Medical on HeathDataPalooza and HIMSS

For us at Collective Medical, the value of conferences is absolutely in the connections and conversation. At HealthDataPalooza, as a very recent example, some of my most valuable moments were unplanned hallway conversations or quick coffees with new connections. Some people yawn at conferences and complain about them being too “vendorized.” But really, there’s no better place to kickstart a new partnership or get wind of new trends or programs.

Collective Medical touches so many points of care–from hospitals, post-acute facilities, behavioral health to health plans. That means a place like the HIMSS conference is viewed less as “something we have to attend” and much more as an opportunity to see so many of our diverse clients in person and have meaningful conversations.

There’s also an energy at conferences around new ideas, particularly in our space which is care coordination. At HealthDataPalooza I appreciated the variety of faces–yes, typically government, health systems, health plans, vendors, but also more women, more people of color and international perspectives (I feel we can never have enough nudges: Yes! We can and should learn something about healthcare from across the sea!). There were sessions on social determinants of health that are critical for the safety net, post acute care innovations for our aging population, and strategies for combating the opioid epidemic (which is critical for every one)—it was hard to choose which to attend!

Sunny Tara, CEO, CareCognitics

I came to Datapalooza to learn. When Mona Siddiqui took the stage, I was inspired by the vision HHS shared for making data actionable. But, data needs to be more than actionable. Data needs to inspire patients to take action.

I love coming to an event with knowledge about what people are looking for there. Currently, I’m working with technology companies, ACOs and physician groups to use technology and create better brand loyalty with patients. There are so many options for patient education or patient engagement, but they have low rates of adoption. Why? If there is low adoption of technology, that means one thing: the technology isn’t meeting patient needs.

When we look at simple things in healthcare that we know lead to better outcomes, like the annual visit, or current testing for diabetic patients, some patients are labelled as “non compliant.” This is a flawed understanding. Rather than criticizing patients for their actions, we should use what we know about technology to understand patient motivation. If the technology is customized to patient needs and motivation, it will have better adoption rates.

Incentivizing healthcare has failed in the past by failing to account for patient needs. That needs to change. Effective technology moves beyond actionable. It is more than a spreadsheet or a patient receiving a text about the things they should be doing. It leads directly to better action. We have been thrilled to meet with ACO groups and patient leaders, most recently at Datapalooza, to talk about improved alignment of motivation and rewards.

Holly Rimmasch, Health Catalyst

When I think about events I have attended this year, I think about the work we’ve done locally to support healthcare leadership in Utah. Health Catalyst has a mission of leading the way in advancing the roles of women in technology in Utah. Recently, Utah HIMSS had a networking breakfast with a panel of women who were leaders in our state. The main point of Health Catalyst supporting the event is our true dedication to contribute to learning, growth and providing opportunities. We have a vision of increasing learning and access to opportunities.

Women at the Utah HIMSS breakfast had found a niche within leadership that matched the interests they already had. Susan Matney PhD, RNC-OB, FAAN, FACMI, FHIMSS was one of those women. She shared her story of mapping out the different actions that nurses were taking before the invention of coding systems, and emphasized that what she thought was important when she was in school is not what ended up actually being important. Speaking with Matney emphasized to me the importance of having a growth mindset in the healthcare industry.

Some of the things we initially don’t think are important end up leading us. Matney was able to internalize this, and as a result she is a leader in the field, having earned her place doing work she loves.

Conferences and events serve as fertile spaces for us to build our vision of the future; one of the spheres in which our industry has the most growth to do is expanding the roles of women, and enabling them to gain the learning opportunities necessary to become inspired leaders.

About the author

Janae Sharp

Janae Sharp

Healthcare as a Human Right. Physician Suicide Loss Survivor.
Janae writes about Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality, Data Analytics, Engagement and Investing in Healthcare.
twitter: @coherencemed