It was a great couple of days in Las Vegas with 25,000+ healthcare finance and revenue cycle professionals in town for the annual Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA) conference. The presentations were dynamite and covered everything from the Washington environment as it impacts healthcare policy, emerging technologies that are disrupting healthcare, and strategies for creating a healthcare system that truly delivers value.
I took interest in topics that centered around the revenue cycle and participated in conversations about how to accelerate cash flow, the need for better integration, and the power of metrics and data analytics that are designed to quantify the performance of clinical operations. With time on the flight home, I was able to process some of the highlights and key messages from the week:
We’re entering a period of explosive connectedness, alignment, and synergism. Dr. Rubin Pillay, PhD hit the nail on the head in his session “Health Care’s Renaissance: Converging to Heal” where he talked about the inevitable waves of change healthcare is facing and the need to prepare now to be successful in the future. He urged paying attention to disrupters in other industries such as Uber, Amazon, and Apple and applying the lessons learned. Smartphones, sensors, augmented reality, artificial intelligence (AI) and other technologies are creating new opportunities for the provision of care, patient monitoring, diagnosis, and treatment. Healthcare needs to adapt and figure out how to disrupt themselves.
Healthcare is still in the early years of value-based payment. Joseph Fifer, CEO of the Healthcare Financial Management Association, urged CFO attendees to take a long-game view of value-based payment models and consider accepting innovative, value-based contracts, even if it reduces fee-for-service revenue. Physicians are still being compensated primarily on volume, not on the quality or efficiency of the care delivered, but that’s slowly changing and hospitals and health systems waiting for deeper penetration of value-based care models will be at a competitive disadvantage. Good data visibility and the means to share data effectively is the key to effectively managing the total cost of care.
There’s a need to better use data analytics. The patients with the costliest and most complex conditions account for 5 percent of the U.S. population but 50 percent of healthcare spending. Yet less than a quarter of hospitals and health systems are using tools that target population health management, limiting their ability to impart best practices and improve patient outcomes. As the transition to value-based care reimbursement becomes a reality, coordinated care between social workers, behavioral specialists, post-acute care staff, and hospital staff is critical as are the tools that allow high-risk patients to be monitored. Having a single source of the truth and real time data will allow physicians to proactively engage and work with their patients to drive preventative care and lower population health costs.
Glistening sushi and sashimi, dance offs, and networking. Vegas isn’t Vegas without an array of parties, good restaurants, and post-conference networking events. Cerner had the party of the week and stuffed their guests with sushi, Saki and socializing. I heard rumors of a dance off, but after walking the trade show floor and a day full of education sessions, I did what many frequent conference attendees do: sent some follow up emails and captured my week in a blog post.
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Pat Henson is Avaap EHR Vice President. He helps healthcare organizations optimize EHR investments and implement strategies to lower risk, control costs, increase physician satisfaction and improve the patient experience.