7 Highlights from InterSystems Global Summit 2019

The InterSystems Global Summit provides developers and executives the knowledge they need to empower their businesses with data. The future of healthcare data will be led by companies and systems that are organized now. InterSystems Global Summit 2019, hosted in Boston this past month, was a great opportunity to better understand how to refine and perfect healthcare data, as well as meet with experts in creating a high-value healthcare system. For the uninitiated, Global Summit plays a valuable part in cultivating leadership in data science and the future of healthcare data.

If you didn’t make it to Global Summit this year, it is a valuable time to improve your healthcare data future, and you should consider attending in 2020. If you didn’t get to go to any of the developer sessions or meetups, make sure you attend one next year as Global Summit will be held in Seattle. You can watch the video about it HERE.

There was a lot to learn at Global Summit 2019. Here are seven things that I thought were a highlight of Global Summit.

1. Meeting with Experts at Lunch.

At breakfast, I sat with Tiffany Harman, RN, BSN, a nurse informaticist from 3M Health Information Systems. She is an expert in standard terminologies and data management, and works on the 3M Healthcare Data Dictionary (HDD) team. The table discussion included topics on how hospitals, payors, providers and vendors are normalizing and standardizing healthcare data, and the challenges associated with that. For a health data enthusiast like me, it was oddly captivating to discuss the many synonyms and acronyms for a heart attack. It is important to understand how varied the data can be in one system and affect the patient data journey. These medical concepts matter in the healthcare ecosystem – poorly encoded data and a lack of interoperability can negatively affect claims billing, data aggregation and even cause delays in patient care.

We discussed the session that reported 38% of diagnosed diabetic population did not have a diabetes diagnosis in their medical record; this is why an accurate account of what was encountered at the visit, appropriate data translation and a clear data meaning is so important for data exchange. Every day, healthcare organizations are gathering large amounts of patient data. Healthcare leaders are asking themselves: How can we benefit from terminology management? It’s not every day you can sit down to breakfast with data experts, and Global Summit had a higher caliber than most events.

2. The future of healthcare data with James Collins, PhD.

Imagine a world where antibiotic resistance is not an issue for hospitals and patient care. Collins, a notable bioengineer and professor, and his team at MIT are working on using machine learning to help identify what components of a substance are toxic to infection. We can create drugs that are perfectly suited to fight infection. A medication can be created that will identify a specific infection, like cholera, and is perfectly reactive to the disease it is targeting. Collins was a keynote at Global Summit, and his research brings together experts in biology and artificial intelligence. The complexity and volume of biological data lends itself to machine learning, and creating low cost medications is a reality.

3. A reality check on artificial intelligence.

Leaders in bringing healthcare artificial intelligence, technology, and information systems, into the present were in attendance at the event. Collins and Vivek Wadwha, MBA, a distinguished fellow at Harvard Law School and Carnegie Mellon, reminded us that a lot of the historic hype about what artificial intelligence will do has not panned out. We are not in the midst of the land of a sentient super-intelligent terminator, and the prediction that AI will diagnose illness with greater accuracy than a physician has not yet materialized.

 As Collins pointed out, one of the greatest challenges is recruiting talent. Wadwha commented that healthcare is determined to remain stuck in the ‘60s with technology and systems. But there are many areas that are opportunities for disruption and improvement. The reality is, we should be doing better.

4. Claudia Williams, MS, and Manifest MedEx.

Health information exchange is something not everyone realizes they care about. When you go to a clinic and learn that tests you already had undergone will need to be redone, you are someone who cares about health information exchange. During the Healthcare Leadership Conference, Williams discussed the importance of health information exchange and what’s necessary to give physicians and healthcare systems the high-value healthcare data they need. According to Williams, we are moving from a world of data scarcity to a world of data abundance. Health information exchange leadership will provide data refinement, integrate diverse data sets, and flag actionable insights.

5. One-on-one help with experts and demonstrations.

Jeff Fried, director of product management for InterSystems, and Alex MacLeod, manager for InterSystems HealthShare commercial initiatives, both had excellent onstage demonstrations of InterSystems products at Global Summit. Intersystems demos infused tongue in cheek humor from Don Woodlock and a real-world application, such as what a physician sees during a telemedicine consultation. Pairing practical application and demonstrations with the presence of some of the best InterSystems developers made this conference a great opportunity to learn for attendees at every level of expertise.

At the end of the conference, I attended the developer meetup. Leaders and some of the top contributors to the InterSystems Developer Community showed data libraries they had developed and deftly modified code within InterSystems IRIS. Going beyond these demonstrations, InterSystems.com/try allows developers to get a feel for the products. Creating a low barrier to entry for complex technology was a core part of the value of Global Summit. From certifications and training for creating excellent healthcare data systems to demonstrations for the layman, learning can happen at every level.

6. Peak Care launch: What is value-based care?

Global Summit saw important leadership around the future of creating peak care, as well as a data product with the same name.

Susan Dentzer, a healthcare journalist and CEO of the Network for Excellence in Health Innovation, started the Healthcare Leadership Conference with a question about how we define value-based care and what barriers exist to creating that care. Just two days later, Don Woodlock, vice president of HealthShare, introduced the InterSystems Peak Care. As Erica Orange, Vice President of Future Hunters said, we are seeing the rapid truncation of time. The information age will change the way we work and our time. Terry Ragon, CEO of InterSystems, started his address with the history of storing data all in one place. A solid foundation will allow healthcare leaders to face the important questions: What will be valuable in healthcare data and what we will do with our data? As we create, model, train, predict, refine, mine, and deliver great healthcare data, a solid investment in a data platform will enable better physician care and better health.

7. John Halamka on the secret to tech success.

Halamka, MD, MS, International Healthcare Innovation Professor at Harvard Medical School and chief information officer at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, talked about strategic plans and aligning priorities. He asked the crowd, “How many times have you been asked to do projects that end up harder than you thought with limited business sense?” He also provided the panacea: Pick a system and stick with it. Some people push for lean, agile, or the most popular improvement structure of the moment. But the most important technology play is to make your investment—whatever it is—work for you. He went on to describe the lean workflow system kanban as a strategic advantage, and I, for one, think everyone with something positive to say about Post-it notes is absolutely correct.

The final word on InterSystems Global Summit 2019

I was reminded of the limited bandwidth that healthcare systems have at Global Summit. I brought a 10-month-old and found myself trying to attend sessions with an enthusiastic fan (my baby) who wanted to join the speakers on stage. The time when my baby would sleep in his stroller ended abruptly in Boston. As he was lecturing on apps, Andreas Dieckow, of Intersystems, reminded me of this: I should stay, life is not perfect, and we are all working here. His comments gave me a lot of hope through the frustration of trying to manage too much. Healthcare data is not simple. The talent barrier that Collins mentioned is real, and our world of exponential data growth creates a bandwidth issue that emerged as a theme for me at Global Summit. I was trying to do things the wrong way. Like Halamka reminded us, we can get stuck in activities that don’t bring us value and take up a lot of time. There is always a bit more work than we anticipated.

We only have so much time and we have differently aligned priorities. I’ve attended other events and seen a CIO manage the conference even as their system went offline. How well we can organize our many expectations will determine who leads and who falls behind. Leaders attended Global Summit, and all healthcare data executives have meaningful, real-world challenges that they bring with them to a conference. Taking time for strategic priorities at conferences like Global Summit is well worth it.

Disclaimer: I was a social media ambassador for Intersystems Global Summit 18 and I’ve been friends with Don Woodlock since before he was with Intersystems. I like their technology.

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. Founder of the Sharp Index.
twitter: @coherencemed