Thursday, February 23, 2017

HIMSS 2017: Buzzword Roundup

Greetings all!

Glad to be back from a dizzying couple of days at HIMSS 2017, the annual see and be seen conference in the Health tech world, where prestige is measured in convention floor square footage and carpet depth (at least one vendor area felt awfully reminiscent of a bouncy house).  Having not been in about 10 years, HIMSS has become a rather dizzying affair.

This year the buzzwords seems to coalesce into 4 related concepts, neatly placed on nearly everyone's marketing materials:

  1. Value-based care
  2. Population Health
  3. Big data
  4. Machine learning/AI
One gentleman I met on the floor suggested that all of the presenting companies could have agreed on one booth with one pattern of signage given the convergence.

Anyhow, if you look deeply into those four buzzwords (buzz phrases?), it would seem that the direction of clinical care is artificial intelligence supporting groups paid to take care of populations.  Individual clinicians and patients were nowhere to be found. Not entirely surprising for a tech conference, but as another colleague pointed out-- this isn't really tech, these are tech enabled services.

Hold that thought in one hand for a moment while we try and square it with the rise of personalized, relationship-based, individualized medicine as all the rage elsewhere in the healthcare world.  

So then, are the two ideas: care for populations driven by machine intelligence and care for individuals driven by personal genomics in conflict, competition or concert?

I'll add a third one into the mix-- behind the high gloss of hi tech (computational or biological), the problems of health care are actually extremely messy, mundane, and human. Accurate lists of names, getting clinicians and patients to do the things we already know work, organizing emotional narratives from which to drive decisions; these are the problems of today that each of us ignore at our own peril. 

So maybe I'll put forth a possible litmus test for evaluating any new health technology:

Does said technology (medicine, reminder app, clinical decision support tool, diagnostic coding suggester, etc., etc.) require conscious human effort and therefore adds complexity to a chaotic system, or does it remove conscious effort and reduces complexity in a chaotic system?

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