By David Gregg, M.D., chief medical officer, StayWell.
Technology can be harmful to our health, especially our emotional health. Those are the latest findings from Cigna’s recent study highlighting the epidemic of social isolation. The report details the impact technology has on younger adults, communities, and even workplaces. While health care continues to focus on the latest tech advances, including artificial intelligence and machine learning, providers are seeing a steady increase in social isolation linked to technology.
With an ever-expanding inventory of digital health tools at our fingertips, we need to balance the benefits that these advances offer, with a human-centered, personal touch to improve the health and well-being of individuals.
Digital health has made significant strides in improving the health of patients, expanding a network of apps, digital platforms, wearables, and plug-ins – creating greater connectivity among patients, providers, payers, and employers, while capturing meaningful health data.
As technology advances we’re seeing innovative ways to use this data to reveal trends, detect health issues much earlier, trigger alerts, and personalize health care. But the digital health universe still cannot capture a full picture of a patient’s entire health. For that we still need a human approach.
Social media is a double-edged sword, bringing us all together as never before, but causing greater isolation and diminishing the richness of person-to-person interaction. Digital health technology poses a similar dilemma — we can link patients to care systems as never before and generate new avenues to share timely data, but can we maintain the valuable patient-care team relationship and avoid overwhelming care teams with too many data sources and administrative tasks?
More data is good, but is it the right data and are we applying it to deliver optimal care and improve health? Advanced technology is good, but is it producing efficiency and enabling care teams to do what they do best – take care of patients?
Digital health is a balancing act – we want to leverage high-tech while we preserve high-touch. For example, to maintain focus on the patient, health coaches are playing a more prominent role in the delivery of care. Health systems and employers are turning to health coaches to serve as a high-touch health champion to drive engagement and support treatment adherence. Health coaches serve as the human bridge between patients, care teams, and health plans. Coaches help make sense out of the wealth of digital health data.
By Patricia Hyle, vice president of product commercialization, StayWell.
Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources or FHIR was introduced in 2014 as a data standard for electronic health records to adopt, enabling improved access in sharing health data. The move was predicated by new standards set for the with the passing of the Affordable Care Act in 2015 but supports the standard framework for EHR systems to ensure patient information be accessible in an effort to deliver quality care.
FHIR aims to simplify implementation without sacrificing information integrity. It leverages existing patient models to provide a consistent, easy to implement, and rigorous mechanism for exchanging data between EHR applications. This move gained ground when it earned support and adoption from Epic and Cerner, two of the largest EHR systems in the industry. With more than 80 percent of hospitals and health systems now using EHRs on the FHIR platform, it has become the standard for EHR vendors to meet ONC certification criteria.
Addition of apps to FHIR
Following the adoption of FHIR as the new universal standard operating platforms for EHR systems, the launch of SMART (Substitutable Medical Applications, Reusable Technologies) quickly followed to enable to launch of apps within the FHIR platform. When the two platforms came together it became known as SMART on FHIR, allowing software engineers and clinicians to create open-source tools for app developers.
With the addition of these plug-in apps, clinicians can pick and choose which apps they want to integrate into their EHR system. This allows apps to use the standard type of data to build profiles, deliver tools, create reminders, or share data within a fully connected set.
One example of this type of app on is Krames On FHIR. Launched in 2017, this app delivers recommended patient education materials based on inputs from the patient’s EHR record. The material also includes video resources, interactive tools, and health tips that can be sent directly to patients via the patient portal and provides a patient engagement dashboard that allows physicians to track engagement for greater treatment adherence.
Impact of consumer applications to FHIR
When SMART on FHIR initially launched, it was intended to be a set of app standards for developing apps within the closed FHIR network. The end user would be interfacing with an EHR system, and ideally the end user was a care provider or administrator in a health care setting. However, after a few years of use, more users and developers saw the potential use of extending limited access to the network to the patient.
“Consumer pressure is driving a disruptive technology-enabled shift in healthcare today,” said Hal Wolf, HIMSS president and CEO, in a statement about the report. “Digital health technologies are beginning to deliver on their promise to help providers understand individual consumer preferences and provide personalized care that effectively coordinates care throughout the broader health ecosystem. By fully realizing the potential of information and technology, we can create an ever-increasingly informed and empowered global community of innovators, care providers, and patients.”
Specifically, the HIMSS report addresses four key trends: digital health implications and applications, consumer impact, financial and demographic challenges, and issues of data governance and policy. “Digital health tools have been riding the peak of the hype cycle for several years now,” the report points out, “but 2019 will be the year that digital health will need to answer for the way technology will increase access to care and narrow gaps in care and coverage.”
Given these areas of focus, it’s a good bet that the upcoming HIMSS19 conference and trade show will heavily promote these ideals. Even with that, there are likely going to be many other takeaways from healthcare technology’s biggest annual event so we asked some industry insiders, experts and thought leaders what they hope become the main takeaways from the event once it has wrapped. Here’s what they said.