What I learned at HIMSS about developments in health IT for the rest of 2012

Like many of you, I made the annual pilgrimage to the HIMSS Conference last month but I didn’t write much publicly about it (I mostly wrote private analyst reports for specific clients). There’s so much noise at such a big conference that I like writing about HIMSS gatherings after a little time has passed and I can discuss the market landscape with vendors outside the craziness of the conference. Here’s what I learned while I was in Vegas and my takeaways for the rest of the year.

Major developments in Health IT for the rest of 2012

It was discussed a lot in the educational sessions and vendors didn’t talk about it much, but the new realities of complex business models (like PCMH and ACOs) mean that standardization of clinical workflows won’t really be possible for a while. The open secret is that most EHRs are not up to the task of handling the complexities of new business models, though. I believe the big shift to cloud computing and mHealth will mean that smaller and more nimble “apps” (both web based and mobile) will start to shoulder more of the burdens that are being thrown in by new business models. When you add more services (like smaller cloud apps and mHealth apps) more and more orchestration across services and apps is necessary (not larger apps).  The common wisdom is that there will be fewer EHRs as consolidation occurs but that’s not going to happen – interfacing, interoperability, and real service based platforms will be created that can handle the next level of more sophisticated requirements. We’ll move from basic record keeping and document management to more refined patient management, patient engagement, social electronic health records, and collaboration-driven software. The older vendors will start to hear the collaboration siren songs and jump on board pretty quickly.

How the role of EHRs will change

The best EMRs will be those that become the central “dashboard” around the most complex healthcare workflows and begin to really become “coordinators” amongst multiple systems instead of a monolithic application. Clinicians really need to understand that their EHRs need to be their patients’ social health record and relationship management system and not just their chart management system. The role of the EMR must and will change to being the patient-centric collaboration and engagement driver and will just happen to store documents, charts, and MU records as a byproduct. When retrospective documentation becomes a byproduct of more collaborative care systems then we all win.

Developments in coordinated care

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