We have come to an end of another massive gathering of Healthcare IT experts at HIMSS 2016. We saw some new ideas in healthcare IT to transform healthcare as well as many of the recurring themes of breaking the data silos and demanding interoperatability. With over 30,000 people and more than 1300 exhibitors attending the conference, we saw the products, solutions and services for the entire healthcare ecosystem. For those who couldn’t attend the conference, here are some of the interesting facts and takeaways from the conference:

 

  • – 1% of the US population is responsible for 23% of the healthcare spending. 5% of the population is responsible for 50% of the healthcare spending. Risk stratification is extremely essential to optimize the healthcare cost.

  • – 91% of the patients use text messages. An average American spends 52X more time online than with a clinician. Patients check their phone 150 times a day! Including patients via mobile devices and outside of the traditional care delivery centers is paramount to provide highest value to the patient.

 

– Companies see billions (yes, with a ‘B’) of network intrusion attacks per day! Rules of cyber security are changing rapidly. Ensuring safety and privacy of the patient data is not only essential but the only way to gain the trust of the users.

 

– As per the article, it takes 8 clicks in the EMRs for physicians to order an aspirin for the patient (18 clicks for extra strength!). Lack of usability in healthcare products is causing physician fatigue and affecting patient safety. Obsessing about clean and simple user interfaces for complex healthcare product is a good thing!

 

Among the sea of providers, payers, medical device and software ISVs, there are also many small and large companies who provide product engineering services. I have been a part of the product engineering services army for a long time. All of us together are contributing to transform healthcare bit by bit. While the product engineering companies have specific purpose and defined direction, the focus of the engineering services companies get much broader. We contribute to a variety of products and applications that are diverse in nature in terms of functionality, technology stack, deployment and the user base. In my opinion, this is a great thing. At any given point, we are building solutions that include devices, software platforms and advanced analytics. In the process we gather great knowledge that can be harnessed and leveraged towards the evolution of the healthcare products.

 

We are witnessing a golden era of disruptive healthcare transformation and we should embrace it with excitement. In my mind, product engineering service providers have the following pivotal role of effectively contributing in transforming healthcare:

 

Read the tea leaves and look out of the window: While helping companies build the products, service providers are at the center of the technology transformation of healthcare. We have rich data of several products that are being built. We are at the forefront discussing the product requirements with the end customers and defining the objectives of the solutions. We have a strategic outside in view of the healthcare IT future landscape. This information can be effectively distilled (anonymized and contextualized) into actionable insights for looking into the future, understanding what the end users want and need, know the product and technology trends. This enviable position should be leveraged in providing advice and guidance to their customers in order to provide the right value in addition to providing technical expertise and talent.

 

Assemble the army and make alliances: With the acute knowledge of the market, understanding expertise / strength of the companies, it’s easy to assemble the tools to build the great products. As we walked the halls of HIMSS, we came across companies with nice products and solutions that can be easily integrated into large platforms. We can be a great partnering channel of among our ecosystem to provide ready solutions that can accelerate the product development. Architects in product design teams can often assume that the homegrown solutions are efficient and optimized to solve the problems at hand. Product engineering services consultants need to look beyond the internal expertise and carefully evaluate build vs. buy options that can be valuable for the product in the end. Building alliances with right solution components to take advantage of the natural strengths is the only way to win the battle with ammunition and energy left to win the war!

 

Keep It Simple Stupid: Healthcare industry is lagging others to leverage IoT revolution. It’s more than urgent to catch up the pace. With many healthcare challenges upon us and the plethora of technology solutions available, it is very tempting to build large solutions with high flexibility and scalability. Designing fool proof, perfect system will take time and the pace will be lost. Instead, the approach of building Cheaper, Faster, Safer solutions can help release the product out in the market sooner to test the waters. Simplicity is the key, be it in technology design or the user interface. It is proven time and again that the users will reject a great product with bad usability. Simplifying the usage is far more valuable than giving access to complex functionality to the users. And towards that end, it is imperative to invest in pragmatic solution architects with broader technology understanding as well as great usability experts who can work their magic to build amazing designs or give facelift to the aging products and modernize them. Remember not to get into analysis paralysis and keep it simple!

 

The product engineering service provider companies stand at a strategic vantage point looking over the mountain. It is our role and responsibility to provide the guidance to our customers while contributing in building path breaking products by providing working hands. The true value of the services will be generated by sharing the knowledge of the landscape and asserting our views based on our vantage point! Enjoy the breathtaking view and the exciting ride!