Pick Your Path: Meeting Goals in 2017

snowimageGiven the current state of healthcare policy, finance, industry mergers/dissolutions, and much more, you might think this would be a good time for a long, quiet pause – but we all know that’s not practical.

Instead, let’s consider another approach, borrowing from Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken.” I particularly like these lines, as I think they articulate the challenges we face in our overly busy world.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both . . .

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

In choosing your path, and clearly there may be more than two, I believe you will do well to focus on core, foundational priorities that will be relevant irrespective of what happens with healthcare policy and reimbursement. Betting on the fundamentals, while perhaps not “sexy” or hyped, will return rewards. Here’s where I am focusing this year, and where I’ve started my consultancy.

Governance.

The explosion of devices, telehealth, analytics and population health, the push for consumer engagement, and the Internet of Things (IOT) scream for trusted data. Yet building trust in data, irrespective of the source, requires diligence, understanding, and accountability. Governance, whether starting at the data level, or the enterprise and information level, is hard work that may take months or even years for a return on the investment. But the ROI can be significant.

Patient and Provider Identity.

Mastering patient or provider identities as a pathway may feel and sound like the interoperability discussion. You may think to yourself, “I never thought we’d be talking about this for my entire career.” But when you consider the governance needs discussed above, as well as the proliferation of portable or personal devices, it becomes clear that trusting patient and provider is essential. This is particularly relevant when you consider that personal devices can send consumer-specific data, and this data must be incorporated into an EHR, individualized care plan, and disease registries that track population health data.

The recent Health Data Management 11 trends that HIT executives see for EHRs also gave me pause as they reflected on the trends and market uncertainty. Whether implementing telehealth, dabbling with FHIR, or capturing information for analytics is on your path, foundational elements like governance and managing identification should be included.

As I follow these paths in 2017, I’ll continue my love of Robert Frost which began during my elementary school days in rural South Dakota. May 2017 give you opportunities to explore more paths.