EHRs, cybersecurity, and the digital era at HIMSS18

March 26, 2018

HIMSS18 was attended by some of the health information technology field’s top minds. Health Management Technology had the opportunity to meet with quite a few of them, including Paul Black, CEO of Allscripts, Axel Wirth, Healthcare Solutions Architect at Symantec, and David Dimond, CTO of Dell EMC Healthcare and Life Sciences.

Paul Black, CEO, Allscripts

First HMT had the opportunity to meet with Paul Black, CEO of Allscripts, to discuss a number of trending topics, including the company’s Avenel announcement. Here are the highlights from our discussion.

Black started off the interview by stating, “2017 was a big year for us.”

He continued, “If you look at the segment of the market for buying EMRs, it is now part of historical record and therefore people are doing other things such as population health, post acute care, precision medicine, and other areas that we’re working at Allscripts as well.”

He went on to explain, “Inside the EMR market it is still important to have a share, size, girth etc. Scale helps organizations to be relevant. The thing about being relevant is that organizations understand they have to do the EMR stuff to be relevant and to do those other things. Long-term players have to have other platforms, if you will, in order to be interesting to a buyer.”

“Most buyers want a single place to shop that’s integrated. That’s my impression of being part of this business for quite a while.” Black said.

Next, we asked about Allscripts’ new product, Avenel.

Avenel is a mobile-first, cloud-based solution hosted on Microsoft’s cloud, Azure. Avenel creates a communitywide shared patient record and deploys machine learning to streamline clinical documentation, getting “smarter with every use.”

Black said, “We worked on this project for 2.5 years. We had been thinking that someone would disrupt this marketplace and it might as well be us. When you look at things historically, whether it be Bill Gates or IBM, it’s better to be disrupted internally than externally.”

He continued, “We think the influence of the cloud, plus the ability to use reliable technologies, such as machine learning, the proliferation of hand-held devices and mass usage of these devices makes it inevitable that someone could come in and build something from the ground up.”

“We wanted to create a solution that drove a stake into the heart of clinicians’ frustrations about EHRs,” added Black. “We spent a great deal of time meeting with clients and industry leaders to better understand why providers have been so unhappy with the first wave of EHRs. They want technology that works like they work, and thinks like they think.”

“We’re pretty pleased with the early feedback. I got a text last night from a new doctor [using Avenel]. He went to see 14 patients; he’s a surgeon and doesn’t have a lot of tolerance for things that aren’t great. He had no, training and saw the 14 patients in four hours that he was there and did all the surgical rounds, did all the documentation and billing, done. No pajama rounds, no working at home at night, and said ‘This is pretty slick.’”

Axel Wirth, Healthcare Solutions Architect, Symantec

HMT also had a chance to sit down with Axel Wirth, Healthcare Solutions Architect at Symantec. He and his team provided us with their freshly released report, “Symantec and HIMSS Analytics: IT Security & Risk Management Study.”

We asked Axel for a few comments on the report and other trends he sees in the cybersecurity sector. Most importantly, he said “Cybersecurity is becoming a topic outside of IT and IT Security, and the discussion now includes executive decision makers, the C-Suite, and hospital boards. Now, entire organizations are talking about cybersecurity.”

According to the report’s findings, “The first step is being aware that all healthcare providers are at risk of a cyberattack. The next step is realizing that cyber risks are not just an IT problem or a compliance problem anymore, but also a concern for the entire enterprise. ‘Cyberattacks aren’t just technical risks anymore,’ said Wirth. ‘They are business risks.’”

Wirth told us that medical devices like imaging equipment are one of the biggest risks in healthcare. “The equipment is computer-like and connected to the network. That exposes them to the same threats as other devices, but they tend to be much more vulnerable. We even heard of cases where individuals checked their email, Facebook, etc. on a medical device workstation over lunchtime or on a break, and which opened the door for a cyberattack,” he said.

The report goes on to say, “Two trends have contributed to this reality. First, during the past 10 years, healthcare has undergone a significant digital transformation, and as a result, has become highly dependent on the availability of digital systems and data. Second, cyberattacks have become more sophisticated, targeted, and focused on financial gain.”

Consequently, “hospital boards have begun to realize security affects their bottom line, their reputation, their ability to deliver care to their patients and—in extreme cases—even their ability to keep their doors open,” said Wirth.

On a final note, Wirth told HMT, “There is growing awareness, but for the most, action is still lagging.” Hopefully, awareness will soon lead to action.

Finally, HMT connected with David Dimond, CTO of Dell EMC Healthcare and Life Sciences at HIMSS18. He gave us a lot of great insight into the digital era of healthcare and kindly wrote up his thoughts for this piece. They are featured below.

David Dimond, CTO, Dell EMC Healthcare and Life Sciences

Leaping ahead into the digital era—the three things you must do now

We are all living in a digital era where clinicians need fast access to all patient information, actionable insights to prescribe the best treatments with protection of this sensitive information against cyber threats.  Due to the rise of consumerism and industry consolidation, the shift to the digital era is here to stay, so healthcare organizations need transformative technology solutions that make the future of healthcare real—from the point of care, to the data center, to the cloud—or they risk being left behind.

These drivers are creating urgency for healthcare organizations to cross the digital divide and adopt rapidly emerging digital technologies to further improve care, reduce risks, and cut costs. In fact, more than 71% of US hospitals are currently Dell EMC customers and more than 62% of storage infrastructure in U.S. hospitals runs on Dell EMC.  

From predictive analytics and machine learning to wearable devices and telehealth, the promise and impact of digital technologies on healthcare is boundless—spanning genomics, the patient experience, precision of diagnosis, and treatment and operational efficiency. Moving forward, progress in precision medicine, connected health, and security open up new opportunities for optimizing the well-being of both individuals and larger populations.

Accelerating the journey to true digital transformation cannot be separated from an organization’s Health IT (HIT) strategy and capabilities. Even healthcare entities pursuing external IT services and outsourcing strategies need a robust internal HIT function to actively manage the alignment of IT services with the overarching health mission, care delivery approach, and business models.

There are IT maturity imperatives that HIT teams should take to shift resources from business-as-usual to innovation initiatives, and gain the operational agility required to become a valued, responsive, and strategic partner in digital healthcare transformation.

  1. Modernize the infrastructure within the data center. Leverage modern technologies like Flash, Converged and Hyper-converged infrastructure, modern servers and tools like software define networking and storage.
  2. Next, automate IT and establish IT as a service for your organization. Create a service catalog that allows automation of services to your users with end-to-end management and providing of resources.
  3. Finally, transform IT operations to leverage the hybrid cloud and multi-clouds. This serves both your traditional data center workloads and allows your organization to leverage cloud services to help reduce cost and increase efficiency of your organization.

In a time and in an industry of rapid and radical change, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. However, disruption should be a force for positive change. For example, growing pressures on critical applications and workloads can be the impetus for moving off legacy systems. External cloud service providers can drive HIT to explore new, more agile ways of working that deliver new kinds of value to the business and healthcare mission.

For most HIT organizations, there really is only one choice—move forward and seize the opportunity by delivering the services that will enable your enterprise to transform healthcare delivery for the better.

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