I recently attended and moderated at my first Digital Health Conference in New York, hosted by the New York e Health Collaborative. I was impressed with the quality of the speakers but more impressed with how this year, in my view, truly signals the implementation of digital health technologies we have long discussed as technology of the future.
1. Analytics are the key to the power of Big Data. Much has been said about Big data. However, Big Data is as useless without good analytics is as weather data is without forecasting models. The keynote speech by Kaiser’s George Halvorson was powerful. He provided examples of how analytics (retrospective and more so real-time) are powerful in both formulating hypotheses and providing answers needed to drive better patient outcomes. It was the emphasis on outcomes which mesmerized me as a physician and a proponent of the use of digital technology to solve real clinical problems.
2. Interoperability was addressed at multiple sessions. In one session, standards for interoperability were discussed by speakers from the ONC as well as commercial entities. Representatives from The North Shore-LIJ Health system discussed how interoperability is utilized to facilitate continuity of quality care across different areas (pre-natal, labor and delivery, and post-delivery) in another. Interoperability was also a focus of an excellent session entitled “Freeing the Data: Driving Value from Using Clinical, Claims, and Device Data”, moderated by Dr. Deborah Estrin. The importance of interoperability was highlighted at a session which I moderated as well, “Mobile Health Technology: The Future is Now.” Another big session focused on interoperability as a key component of care coordination where patient hand-offs and care coordination planning were discussed. It was made clear (and comforting to me) from the conference that interoperability is no longer seen as a luxury but an integral part in the projected success of digital health technology.
3. Tools of the future were discussed. The development and potential use for Google Glass and 3D printing in healthcare were artfully presented by early adopters and developers. The enthusiasm of early adopters was infectious and palpable in the crowded rooms.
4. Presentations relating to the patient perspective made me proud to be a part of the faculty of this conference. Sessions on the Blue Button Initiative (direct patient access to data) and patient portals from leading experts in the public and private sectors were informative and inspiring. It is my hope that all healthcare conferences (including professional society meetings) include patient perspectives. Shared decision-making will necessitate such collaborative collective learning.
5. The role of digital technologies in producing better patient outcomes via new care models was highlighted in a couple of sessions. The value of the use of digital tech by Medicaid patients and their providers and how IT will be critical to ACOs were discussed. The importance of IT as an engine of efficient and cost-reducing new care models cannot be overstated. Patient and disease tracking, individualized medicine, and patient safety hang in the balance.
I am glad that we are finally talking about how digital heath technology is not a separate silo in the healthcare ecosystem. Not only is it an integral part of the fabric of all silos, but it signals the dissolution of many silos themselves. Patient care is now seen as a continuum with the weight shifting from institutions to the home and from physicians to other providers, heralding the importance of shared decision-making and highlighting the role of the caregiver. I look forward to contributing to other pivotal conferences, namely mHealth Summit 2013 and HIMSS 2014 as well. Bring it on!