Georgia Healthcare IT & Education Working Together

The Institute for Healthcare Information Technology (IHIT) commissioned Porter Research to perform a follow-up project stemming from last year’s “Georgia Healthcare IT Workforce Readiness Survey”, which involved a statewide survey of healthcare IT service providers (vendors) and practitioners (hospitals, clinicians) to gauge the status of their plans to expand and hire from within the state, as well as their perceptions of how well-equipped Georgia’s educational institutions are to provide qualified healthcare IT job candidates.  The Workforce Readiness project produced a whitepaper, highlighting the research findings, that IHIT shared with state leaders and educational representatives.  It was decided that follow-up research was needed to collect more granular insight about specific areas of industry perceptions as it relates to the state’s educational system.

Consequently, IHIT in collaboration with the Technical College System of Georgia, the University System of Georgia, and Emory Continuing Education conducted a series of interviews and discussions with top executives from a random selection of 10 healthcare IT companies, of varying sizes, located in the Metro Atlanta area.  Unlike the earlier, larger-scope statewide research project, this follow-up effort was designed as a face-to-face meeting with industry leaders in order to get feedback beyond a Q&A session.  The in-person format allowed for every company to be presented with the same set of open-ended discussion topics in the hopes of starting a dialogue between all parties.  The meetings were also held to help evaluate current educational offerings as well as proposed future initiatives that could be developed to “bridge any gaps” that may exist between the job demand and the educational supply to foster growth for Georgia’s healthcare IT industry.

The newly-released “Georgia Healthcare IT & Education Working Together” whitepaper covers the interviews with healthcare IT executives, their suggestions for developing an educational “orientation” curriculum to better prepare students, and the responses from healthcare IT educators.  The Working Together whitepaper, along with the earlier Workforce Readiness whitepaper, can be downloaded here.

IHIT is an Atlanta-based non-profit organization founded for the purpose of connecting resources and leveraging strengths of the healthcare IT industry within Georgia and the Southeastern U.S. to expand technology throughout the nation’s healthcare system.

AHIP 2014 Takeaways

During my flight back home from the 2014 America’s Health Insurance Plans Institute conference, I began to reflect on my personal takeaways and observations from the event. America’s Health Insurance Plan Institute, or simply AHIP, is the national trade association that represents the health insurance marketplace. I have been attending AHIP for the past five years and the conference gets better and more informative each year. Compared to other industry trade shows, AHIP is on a smaller scale. However, what the conference lacks in size it more than makes up for in content. The smaller environment allows attendees to really spend more time building relationships and learning from each other. In fact, this is precisely why it is one of my favorite shows to attend each year.

Since 1989, I have been involved in hundreds of market research projects for the healthcare industry and have certainly witnessed many changes. However, the changes happening in healthcare today are unprecedented. I had many great conversations with attendees at AHIP this year and they all seemed to share the same opinion.

The total size of the health insurance market is close to a trillion dollar industry and represents a notable portion of the US GDP. So, in my opinion, in order to get a good glimpse at were the healthcare industry is headed, you just follow the money and need not look any further than AHIP to get a peek into the crystal ball. Assuming this opinion is valid, here are a few glimpses into the very near future:

  • Due to sky-rocketing costs of the U.S. healthcare system, there is a well-documented and publicized emphasis to shift from fee-for-service to quality based pay-for-performance. Most of the press has centered their focus on health care providers with this shift. However, due to its enormous share in healthcare costs, it is the payer side of the healthcare equation that is just as, if not more motivated to see this shift through. Therefore, it is a safe bet that any vendors that are currently focused on developing products that focus on the patient and controlling costs and quality stand to be big winners this year and for many years to come.
  • Building on my aforementioned thoughts about the focus on the patient, there were many startup companies at AHIP and several were focused on patient outcomes, patient engagement, population health and remote monitoring. Patients are obviously people, and we know from personal experiences that people are completely consumed with their mobile devices these days. Therefore, it is no surprise that the healthcare industry is quickly turning to mobility, or mHealth, to fill gaps. I work with a few clients that are exploring mHealth and I am particularly excited about the future of this industry.
  • Due to Meaningful Use incentives and a push to increase quality and control costs, healthcare, in large part, has become electronic. The important byproduct of the eHealth movement is data. Payers are focused on pay-for-performance, quality, and patient outcomes and are relying heavily on data and data analytics for this. Therefore, the idea of Big Data is certainly playing out and this was very evident at AHIP.

AHIP 2014 was well put together and well received by the attendees. Bottom line, the most important and really exciting takeaway from AHIP is the shared believe that with all of the change and new challenges come tremendous opportunity for those of us that serve the healthcare industry and its patients.