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The Over and Under on HIMSS ’13

By: Stephen Wray, President and CEO, Cadient Group

Right Time, Right Place

Intrigued by the theme of “HealthIT: Right Time, Right Place. It’s ON,” I made the journey down to New Orleans earlier this month to witness this convergence firsthand.  As the first post-election (and post-apparent endorsement of the Affordable Care Act [ACA] by the voting populace) version of HIMSS, it promised to be an indicator of the progress of HealthIT in the transformation of the US healthcare system. I also viewed HIMSS ’13 as an opportunity to experience the other side of the healthcare equation, in hopes of gaining a broader perspective on how the HIMSS and ACA environment might influence where we focus our mission at Cadient Group in the future.

HIMSS13

Welcome to March Madness!

When I headed south to New Orleans, I honestly had no appreciation for the eye-opening experience ahead. With all due respect to the NCAA, HIMMS ‘13 was true March Madness! With approximately 35,000 attendees and an exhibit hall that covered an area equivalent to 17 football fields, the sheer magnitude of the event was a bit overwhelming at first. However, if it’s possible for one to be both overwhelmed and underwhelmed at the same time, I have to admit to that being the takeaway from my HIMSS ’13 experience. To state my bias upfront, I am a huge proponent of the power of information technology to improve health delivery and health outcomes. I salute HIMSS and its membership for their resolute focus to move the US healthcare system into the 21st century. There was a massive collection of brilliant minds, visionary thinkers, and innovative companies present at this year’s event, as I’m certain there have been since HIMSS was formed over 50 years ago.

The possibilities from what I witnessed in terms of technology, tools, systems – all under one roof –  was truly overwhelming to absorb. My mind raced to think of how much could be done to address the inefficiencies and gaps in the current care dynamic. The organization of the event was well thought out – attendees could design and follow an educational experience pathway focused upon interoperability, meaningful use, or (my personal focus) enabling the “e-patient,” among other ACA-related topics. In a nutshell, if you were so inclined, you could access more information on HealthIT and ACA than you could possibly digest (much like the food and beverage side of New Orleans, it turns out).

Where’s the Gold at the End of the Yellow Brick Road?

So if I had landed in the HealthIT equivalent of Oz, how could I possibly be underwhelmed by my HIMSS ’13 experience? The more I heard from experts and those who are in the trenches around the ACA, the more concerned I became about the momentum that has been achieved to date.  We do realize that the 21st century started 13 years ago, right? I’m almost certain that I was not the only person in attendance to realize that the slow trickle of adoption with regards to several key elements of core HealthIT mandates directly tied to the ACA means that a vast majority of constituents have yet to take the required actions needed for driving change.

When the implementation date of a core component of standardization for electronic transactions (ICD-10) is still being debated, even when the proposed starting point is 18 months from now, I have to admit to feeling less than confident that we are moving toward behavioral changes that will allow us to fully leverage technology to the benefit of better and more cost effective healthcare.

Time to Place Our Bets and Put Technology in Action

While I sensed the glacial pace of HealthIT transformation, I’m also witnessing the growing epidemics of diabetes and obesity, either of which could bankrupt the current inefficient heathcare system. Without the tools to more effectively address the patients who require care today and to help with prevention of the conditions in the future, we will quickly find ourselves on a collision course with dire consequences.

For me, the most fascinating aspect of HIMSS ’13 was the fact that it is truly a point of convergence of technology, organizational management, politics and policy, societal change, and macro-economics. President Bill Clinton captured the essence of the challenge in his keynote address:

“Information technology and how we manage it is critical to an effective healthcare system in the 21st century,” he continued, highlighting “…the role that information technology can play to improve healthcare access and leverage for ordinary people…The political, social, and healthcare impacts of ACA have yet to be fully determined because that all depends upon how it’s implemented.”

As HIMSS ’13 illuminated for me, we’re betting a lot on the ability of technology to transform the delivery of healthcare from an antiquated model to one that can be scaled to meet future demands. There’s no doubt that in the past decade alone, technology has markedly transformed our financial systems, has altered the retail shopping environment, and has dramatically redefined the entertainment landscape. In each of these cases, people were motivated to adopt and to make meaningful changes in their behavior. I can only hope that we find the same motivations to adopt new technologies to change our healthcare system. This bet is one that we can ill afford to lose.

Cadient Group: Results in Action Is Our Bet
As a leading digital health communications agency, Cadient has a wealth of experience engaging and motivating consumers and HCPs to drive measurable results.  We believe that in order to deliver continued results, today’s digital strategies need to be adaptive.  To be adaptive, you’ve got to be ready to take action. For over a decade, Cadient Group has been actively innovating in the digital space—and delivering results in action. Now, more than ever, this ability to reach patients and providers at the right time, with the right message, to drive the right actions is critical, and the digital ecosystem is the right bet.

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Stephen Wray

Stephen Wray

Steve Wray has over 30 years of experience in healthcare communications and entrepreneurial leadership, including his current role as President and CEO of Cadient, a Cognizant company. Steve also services as Vice President of Cognizant Life Sciences, heading the digital practice for the business unit. During his career, he has also held executive leadership positions as North American Regional President for Ogilvy Healthworld (a WPP company), and Vice President of Marketing Communications for Wyeth (now Pfizer). Steve has been a recipient of the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award, and was named the 2014 Philadelphia Main Line CEO of the Year by the Main Line Chamber of Commerce. Active in numerous philanthropic efforts and a visiting professor for local academic programs, Steve has been listed among the 100 Most Inspirational People in the Life Sciences industry by PharmaVoice magazine.

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