UPMC CIO Predicts Healthcare IT Trends

by webadmin on April 9, 2013

UPMC is one of the most successful and prominent healthcare providers in the country. Located in Pittsburgh, Pa., this “$10-billion nonprofit company…crosses many lines in healthcare–it’s a huge care provider, a 2-million–member insurance company, a research institution, employer of 55,000 people, and even an investor in technology companies,” Chris Murphy writes at InformationWeek.

Murphy interviewed UPMC CIO Dan Drawbaugh about the IT trends that have his attention, and Drawbaugh gave the following list: healthcare reform and risk management technology; analytics; joint provider-vendor development; technology convergence; and gaming and consumer devices.

First, healthcare reform and risk management technology will be increasingly needed by providers to “help them manage their risks…and act more like health insurers,” Drawbaugh told Murphy. Because of ACOs reimbursing organizations for the overall health and wellness of a patient population, “providers will have to focus more on managing chronic diseases such as diabetes, and they’ll have to process payments in new ways–based on wellness metrics rather than doctor visits and treatment procedures,” Murphy writes.

Second, analytics may be overlooked in healthcare today or have taken a backseat to other, more pressing IT concerns, but at some point, Murphy observed, providers will have to make sense of the voluminous amounts of data being processed. He reports, “UPMC is part of a $100 million, five-year effort with IBM, Oracle, Informatica, and dbMotion aimed at advancing analytics’ use in healthcare for personalized medicine.

These “efforts don’t only focus on the patient,” he adds. “It’s also looking at analyzing doctors and understanding who gets the best results at the lowest costs.”

Third, joint provider-vendor development has also caught Drawbaugh’s attention; he “sees more interest than ever among big healthcare providers such as UPMC, Kaiser Permanente, and Mayo Clinic to do co-development projects in which a provider brings industry knowledge and works closely with a vendor to push a technology forward.” Prior to Allscripts’ purchase of data-interoperability specialist dbMotion, for example, UPMC invested in it and oversaw its implementation and refinement.

Drawbaugh told Murphy, “One reason for increased interest in joint development is simple: healthcare margins are getting squeezed, while tech vendors are known to enjoy margins of 30 percent or more. Getting into the tech business is a potential new revenue source for some providers.”

Fourth, technology convergence is something else Drawbaugh believes is finally happening. No longer are file formats for “images such as CAT scans…unique to the device that took them.” Instead, “you’re starting to see more vendor-neutral archives (VNA) for such images. That could open new avenues for connectivity and analysis,” Murphy writes.

Drawbaugh admits “this area sounds fuzzier than the rest,” since “they’re just seeing this convergence begin.”

Finally, gaming and consumer devices in healthcare may not be prevalent yet, but Drawbaugh “predicts that’s coming.”

Murphy explains, “Three years ago, you didn’t see a lot of vendor activity at HIMSS in data interoperability, because CIOs weren’t feeling that pain yet. Now they are, and vendors have responded. And the same will happen with patient-centered innovation — simpler mobile apps for patient monitoring, gaming techniques applied to disease management, and electronic messaging, from social networks to email, that replaces traditional doctor visits. That will drive new technology requirements.”

What are some of the IT trends you’re seeing that were not listed in this article? Where is your organization planning to focus its IT dollars in the coming three to five years?

-by Pete Fernbaugh

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