Let's talk about EHR ROI, says HIMSS16 Social Media Ambassador Jane Sarasohn-Kahn

By Bill Siwicki
12:02 PM
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Healthcare economist Jane Sarasohn-Kahn is delighted that the patient component of the healthcare information technology is finally coming of age. Health IT professionals have been witness to the growing role of the consumer in educational sessions and at exhibitions and she expects even more of that at HIMSS16 when it kicks off later this month.

Sarasohn-Kahn, who will be attending as a Social Media Ambassador, writes the Health Populi blog and tweets at @HealthyThinker. She shared her thoughts on how much the patient perspective has gained traction in the two decades she's been attending HIMSS, the need for healthcare organizations to take a hard look at the return on EHR investments and the importance of getting workflow right.

[Also: Bill Bunting talks 2016 predictions, patient engagement]

Q: One health IT prediction for 2016?

A: Now that some $35 billion in HITECH funding has been spent, healthcare providers wonder: what's the ROI? Congress, too, asks the question in other ways, although bipartisan support continues for health information technology inside the Beltway. In 2016, we will see more candid conversations about the lack of ROI from big capital spending for EHRs. This will result in healthcare provider demands for lighter (and less capital intensive) streamlined approaches to data liquidity, data collection (say, via sensors), and standards adoption like FHIR. As my fellow HIMSS16 Social Media Ambassador Charles Webster, MD is fond of saying: "It's all about the workflow." And in a value-based payment environment, that workflow is part of the lifeblood for healthcare providers.

Q: Shifting gears a bit, what is one thing about you that not even devout followers are likely to know?

A: I'm a huge believer in the role that food and nutrition play in health, beyond healthcare. We know that our genes tell only a fraction of our personal health stories. Our lifestyle behaviors contribute mightily to our overall health and wellness. So my family and I belong to our local community-supported agriculture farm, led by our wonderful and talented homeopathic farmer, Erik. And we are Italo-philes devoted to the Slow Food movement founded in Bologna, Italy.

Q: So what inspired you to apply for Social Media Ambassador credentials?

A: As a member of HIMSS for more than 20 years, I can remember that the patient was rarely part of educational sessions or the exhibit hall in my early days of being involved with the organization. I joined HIMSS' Connected Patient Committee several years ago, and we collaborated to help drive the message of the patient's role in healthcare to the organization and its members.

Q: What are you most looking forward to learning more about at this year's conference?

A: Topics such as self-care with patient portals and personal health records systems, health engagement. Also, financial wellness, such as what providers are doing in terms of revenue-cycle management, financial services for patients and healthcare banking.

See all of our HIMSS16 previews

Q: And what do you see as the untold potential for social media in healthcare?

A: There's no doubt that social media has become an integral part of the healthcare landscape in the U.S. Today, social media is driving the collective wisdom of patients and the wisdom of providers - the tremendous impact of peer-to-peer healthcare for consumers and caregivers, provider-to-provider and provider-to-patient. This is resulting in greater democratization in healthcare and better information symmetry between patients and their clinicians, all of which enables health engagement that underpins the Triple Aim to improve outcomes, enhance the healthcare experience and lower per capita costs.

Twitter: @SiwickiHealthIT

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