The Spotted Trends at HIMSS 2018

If there’s one thing clear to the BetterDoctor team after this year’s HIMSS, it is that the healthcare industry is fundamentally shifting and there’s a lot going on to that end.

We noticed four underlying trends happening simultaneously and much of it is due to the advancements of technology that have shaped consumer expectations. On top of that, many products have also improved the delivery mechanisms in all corners of the healthcare industry.

First, consumers have a certain expectation of service quality making them more demanding and more knowledgeable. We do live in the Amazon Prime era after all. This shift, largely known as the consumerization of healthcare, is not exactly new but is nevertheless transforming the way people interface with the healthcare industry. Consumers are more powerful than ever, which means that healthcare services face the challenge of being constantly compared and evaluated.

Today, consumer giants, like Apple and Amazon, have stepped into healthcare, creating pressure on the industry to focus on good consumer experience. This is a good thing and at HIMSS we saw this all around. 

The second trend we noticed was the different ways patients can interact with the care providers. One obvious yet very powerful use case is telehealth, where patients don’t have to go to a doctor’s office anymore to receive care, but can chat over a video call. During the past few years, telehealth has become more mainstream and even NASA takes care of their astronauts by using telehealth.

As much demand as there is to use innovative and new user-centered applications rampant in the banking and retail industries, there remains barriers to building these applications in the healthcare space. Accessing data is challenging at best and impossible at worst. Other industries allow developers to access easily consumable RESTful APIs to access data that they can use in their applications. For example, the highly regulated banking industry in Europe, agreed to open up their APIs to foster innovation and new services. Unfortunately, accessing any data remains complicated and there are no clear standards in the industry.

The good sign is that there is a will to make this all better and accessible. At HIMSS, we saw everything from backend data management to different consumer facing applications moving towards a cloud-based or internet enabled solution. Nearly all 1300 companies at HIMSS emphasized words like cybersecurity, data and interoperability at their booths, clear signs in the right direction. 

The last big trend we observed was the strong interest for improving healthcare with blockchain, machine learning or even AI. However, while these buzzword technologies are very exciting, we couldn’t help but wonder about their underlying data sources. Our team focuses on improving provider data, and based on the recently published CMS provider directory audits, it is clear that if you want build any application to refer doctors to patients, provider data needs to be fixed first. This made us realize that data quality needs to be part of the conversation of making healthcare better.

All the trends at HIMSS indicate that there is movement towards innovating for a better consumer experience. The evolution of technology in healthcare will surely take us in an interesting direction. We look forward to collaborating with others in the industry so we can be more more transparent and make access to data safer and easier.

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