HIT Trends Summary for September 2010

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This is a summary of the HIT Trends Report for September 2010.  You can get the current issue or subscribe here.

Look beyond the EHR to healthcare transformation.  A big idea that continues to emerge this month is to think beyond the EHR and Stage 1 meaningful use incentives toward future stages and healthcare transformation.  Last month, in this column, we reported on a McKinsey analysis arguing that hospitals need to take the long view toward EHR and look for ROI beyond the meaningful use incentives.  This month we learn from a CHiME survey that hospital CIOs are optimistic about earning federal incentives, although KLAS reports that many express that they are not getting their money’s worth from current IT investments.  Epic users seem to be the major exception.  

The answer according to Daniel Marino, CEO at Health Directions, is to seek an ROI through deeper connections with physicians and patients.  These ideas are confirmed as well by a Deloitte report out this month that looks at HIT and patient-centered medical homes and by John Glaser’s outline of an HIT roadmap for accountable care organizations.  CIOs are also asking to be included in the work of the regional extension centers (RECs) through a CHiME network.  This seems like a good idea as we learn from an eHI report that progress at RECs has been slow.   

Mobile health will be a growing part of the solution.  PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and Deloitte each released reports on how mobile health is increasing in importance.  The PwC report predicts a $8B-$43B mobile health market with the key being provider payment reform.  It proposes three emerging business models supporting transformation:  operational-clinical, consumer and infrastructure.  The applications include provider-patient communications from simple texting to virtual online visits.  There is some evidence that consumers will pay for getting detailed clinical information to providers for review.  The Deloitte report focuses on mobile personal health records (mPHR) and sees potential applications in obesity, post-acute, home care and diabetes.  An innovative partnership between Roche and InterComponentWare underscores these issues with a marriage of Roche’s mobile Accu-Chek software and ICWs secure application infrastructure creating communications solutions for diabetes.

We can expect to see continued consolidation of IT solutions.  Vendor consolidation continues apace this month with Ingenix making yet another acquisition.  This one is A-Life Medical, a natural language approach to health coding.  This is likely of increasing relevance as organizations move to ICD10.  Ingenix previously announced acquisitions of Picis and Axolotl.  Also announced this month are three other acquisitions in the payer IT market.  Thomson Reuters buys Health Data Management, increasing its support to self-insured employers.  Emdeon buys Chamberlin Edmonds for $260M, increasing capabilities for government programs. And Ebix, a provider of e-commerce services to insurance companies, buys ADAM and its media-rich patient health information content and benefits services for $66M.

The Art of HIT.  The art this month is No. 9, by Mark Rothko, from 1953.   A similar painting of his sold recently for $70 million.  Rothko, in this late period, painted very large pieces composed of simple color blocks.  He wanted the experience of being engulfed in the work when he was creating it.  And he wanted to convey this sense of simplicity and scale to viewers in the gallery.  This may be a good representation of the current phase of HIT being driven by simple meaningful use rules.  The scale of the future vision is enormous, with nothing less than transformation of the US healthcare system at stake. And as both creators and watchers we likely feel somewhat overwhelmed.

Michael Lake has been a healthcare technology strategist for over 30 years.  He is President of Circle Square Inc., a San Francisco-based strategy, business development and market research firm, focused exclusively on the healthcare information technology market. The company works with healthcare, life sciences and technology companies on developing strategies, products and business models for complex multi-stakeholder healthcare environments.  He publishes the HIT Trends Report monthly.  For more information, please see www.michaellake.com.


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