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It’s taken a couple weeks for things to settle post-HIMSS and we are still invigorated from all of the energy, activity, and innovation we witnessed.

Most important to note, from our perspective, was the focus on interoperability as a national priority. There was a lot of conversation and focus on the Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement (TEFCA) which we believe is necessary, for better or worse, to enable a true national network of patient record exchange. We believe that the role of patient matching is critical in the context of any interoperability discussion – and it was encouraging to see so much attention being given to this.

Ben Moscovitch (The Pew Charitable Trusts) and John Halamka (Beth Israel Deaconess System) specifically touched upon this in their session “The Need for a Nationwide Patient-Matching Solution.” Speaking to a packed room of hundreds of attendees, Dr. Halamka enthusiastically and expertly spoke to the different approaches that are being evaluated – from biometrics and blockchain technologies to patient-driven applications and a physical national patient identifier. It was also clear that we as a collective group of healthcare enterprises, technology vendors, and policy makers have not yet come up with a solution.

Of course, at Verato we believe that Referential Matching must be the backbone of any national patient matching strategy.

Walking through the cavernous halls of the exhibit floor, it was also clear that there are no technology vendors (other than Verato) that are providing a complete solution around cloud-based Referential Matching. In our conversations with analysts, press, partners, and prospects over the course of the conference, they all reinforced this and shared anecdotal or personal challenges they’ve experienced with existing master patient index (MPI) technologies.

Highlight of the conference: our reception with Forcare at Rockhouse for our customers, prospects, and partners. It was great to see folks like Dan Chavez of SDHC, Chris Venturini of UPMC, and Tom Check of Healthix enjoy cocktails and food, engage in scintillating conversation around patient matching, and try to outsmart the hired magician and mentalist entertaining the crowd.

Lowlight of the conference: the lack of water and coffee for attendees. Who has time to wait in line for 20 minutes at Starbucks?!

Observations from our Sales team:

  • Data seemed to be at the center of most vendors’ solutions, and there was a clear acknowledgment that healthcare is a data-driven endeavor.
  • There were so many vendors that seemed to be providing new technologies for things like home healthcare, consumer-provided clinical data from wearables, or analytical services to make use of clinical data—but only a few smaller vendors focused on pervasive problems like patient identity.
  • The mega-vendors must be demanding a hefty price since their booths looked nicer than most people’s homes. Maybe the mega vendors are to blame for the sky-rocketing costs of healthcare in this country.
  • The conference was rich with observations on Interoperability, which is not an end state but an “advancing” (instead of moving) target.
  • Social determinants of health (SDOH) will likely overtake traditional healthcare data in terms of volume and its impact across improving patient experience, population health, and reducing costs.
  • The keynote from Eric Schmidt was all about moving to the cloud. Basically, old technology doesn’t provide the scalability or security necessary to perform deep analysis and predictive medicine.
  • Many health systems are changing their mindsets to thinking that only cloud vendors will be able to protect PHI in the future.
  • There were so many “population health” vendors but they all do different things – doing “population health” could mean doing ETL, data aggregation/modeling, data mining, databases, UI for analytics, etc.
  • Most vendors messaging implicitly assumes that the identity piece of the problem (e.g. identification, patient matching, and identity resolution) is already solved. Even the data aggregators are more focused on data models than identity.

See you next year!