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Transforming Healthcare through Technology and Innovation: MassTLC Healthcare Conference

does a crash course in healthcare in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts look
like? In short, it is full of lessons in innovation, advancements and the power
of data analytics in driving better decisions for consumers and businesses. 
December 3 MassTLC
Healthcare Conference: Transforming Healthcare Through Technology and
began with an inspiring keynote presentation by Roy Smythe,
CEO of HX360 and Chief Medical Officer of Avia Health Innovation, who talked
about the “Big Shift” in healthcare. Smythe boldly asserted that there’s never
been a better time to effect change in healthcare in the US. He issued this
challenge despite the government’s three failed attempts to improve the
healthcare system over the last 50 years and with the US being ranked last in
healthcare system performance in repeat
studies by The Commonwealth Fund
. Smythe posited that three vectors are
aligning for change:  1) widespread
acknowledgement that change needs to happen, 2) a digital revolution that is a forcing function for change, and 3) a
large amount of investment dollars flowing into healthcare IT.
if you look past the last century, healthcare was available in our homes as we
tended to our own. Our current medical system, however, is built around big box
and small box facilities, namely hospitals, doctor’s offices, and nursing
homes. As baby boomers age, healthcare facilities are not plentiful enough to
meet the demands – there are not enough beds in skilled nursing outfits, for
example. As individuals become more technologically savvy and empowered to care
for themselves our current healthcare system has the chance to support new ways
of providing and accessing care. The internet allows patients to research
symptoms and diseases. Simple devices allow people to monitor and assess their
conditions at home.  We can take such
information and become our own advocates, our own health coaches, rather than
defer to doctors as the ultimate authorities. We have the chance to become true
partners in managing our care.
Smythe’s keynote was followed by a reaction panel comprised of key stakeholders
in the Massachusetts healthcare system: a payer, a provider, an innovator, and
a patient representative. Led by moderator Joe Ternullo of Kinematix,
healthcare leaders Jason
, of Blue Cross Blue Shield, Eric Isselbacher,
of Massachusetts General Hospital, Paul
of InterSystems, and Nancy Finn of The Society
for Participatory Medicine, used Dr. Smythe’s keynote as a springboard for
delving into the Massachusetts healthcare ecosystem now, and what the opportunities
are for future impact and innovation.
have all decried the current fee-for-service healthcare system as
misaligned between the goals of reducing costs and improving outcomes. I’ve
heard our system described as a team without a coach. Companies like Iora Health, with their direct pay system
where patients have health advocates, and Twine
, which has created a collaborative care platform with an open API
and plans to be open source, are bucking the status quo. Athenahealth is modernizing healthcare
data systems by using something familiar and common in many industries today –
the cloud. Use of the cloud allows athenahealth to share data findings across
clients so they can all benefit from the collective knowledge.
massive amounts of data generated and collected by healthcare companies and
providers can be leveraged to ensure quality care. Innovative companies are
utilizing predictive analytics to improve healthcare outcomes. SimulConsult has built a database of
rare diseases, their symptoms, and differential diagnoses to help practitioners
identify instances of those rare diseases. 
While some may question the power of identifying rare diseases, Lynn Feldman,
CEO of SimulConsult, points out that 8-10% of known diseases are “rare”
diseases and so we can improve treatment when we better understand the cause. ConvergeHEALTH by Deloitte leverages
claims and clinical data to develop healthcare models that can improve
outcomes.  There are myriad examples of data
innovation in healthcare, and opportunities abound as data systems mature
within the healthcare context. This in turn increases the alignment of
incentives between payers, providers, and patients, which will generate more
possibilities to leverage data in creative ways.
area of rapid innovation is the digital space as patients, doctors, and
healthcare companies become more digitally aware. New products such as wearable
and at-home devices allow consumers more freedom and enable doctors to receive
the data and monitor their patients without the need for repeat office visits
for important but simple tasks such as documenting blood pressure. Remote
tracking devices, telehealth measures and digital technology can be used to
reduce costs while improving health outcomes. 
Ultimately, adoption of consumer digital technology will not succeed
with a web of technologies and interfaces, but rather, it will require creating
a frictionless, integrated experience for consumers and providers. 
Naomi Fried of Boston Children’s
Hospital and Pam
of The Commonwealth Group concluded the MassTLC Healthcare Conference
in an engaging conversation, urging participants to see the change that is on
the horizon.  Dr. Fried noted that “Healthcare
will look markedly different.  Instead of
going to brick and mortar providers, people are going to be more digitally
enabled.”  It’s a good time to be an
advocate for change in healthcare.

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