Key Takeaways from another Great Health 2.0

By Rasu Shrestha, Chief Innovation Officer, UPMC and Executive Vice President, UPMC Enterprises

Rasu Shrestha, Chief Innovation Officer, UPMC and Executive Vice President, UPMC Enterprises

The Health 2.0 Conference gets better every year. I’m so grateful to have engaged with so many industry leaders—both familiar faces and new friends. What a wonderful opportunity to speak on the “Innovation to Implementation to Transformation” panel on Sunday and connect with people behind some of the most up-and-coming health care technology companies at MarketConnect Live. I also enjoyed engaging with a ballroom full of enthusiastic attendees leading a lunch and learn discussion with my colleagues, where we discussed best practices in marrying the competencies of a digital health company with the realities of patient care.

Sunday night’s Traction 2017 pitch competition was a highlight. I saw some promising startups that are using technology to solve long-standing health care problems. From skin cancer detection to new uses for 3D-printers, I saw innovations that reinforce UPMC Enterprises’ belief that technology can be an enabler of better, more efficient, and more affordable care.

"The right kind of innovation will help provide patients with quality care that keeps them healthy and out of the hospital"

While at Health 2.0, I thought a lot about where our industry is headed and what each person’s role is in redefining the health care trajectory. I left the conference with three key takeaways I’d like to share with you.

1. Treat the person, not just the patient.

For years, the healthcare industry has been throwing around the buzzword “patient-centric.” What does that mean? It’s about focusing on treating the whole person, not just what’s ailing the patient the day they walk into your office, imaging center, or emergency room. While the industry strives to be patient-centric, we still have a long way to go. To achieve this, we need to shift our thinking. To treat patients holistically and put them in the center of their health care, we need to use technology to bring out the most human elements of providing care, like giving doctors flexibility so they can have more face-to-face interactions with their patients. We need to provide patients with the information, tools, and direction they need to feel empowered while making informed health care decisions.

From what I saw at Health 2.0, we’re headed in the right direction. By bringing together key players across the health care ecosystem and leveraging innovation as a strategic imperative rather than a “nice to have,” we can achieve a patient-centric health care system.

2. Person-centric care and building an economically viable business don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

The right kind of innovation will help provide patients with quality care that keeps them healthy and out of the hospital. There will always be a need for hospitals, yet innovation allows us to rethink the role they play in the continuum. Innovation doesn’t have to be an EHR or a clinical communications solution. It can be anything from an organization’s business model to solutions that help clinicians keep patients healthy between visits. That’s why we’re working with Vivify Health, a remote patient monitoring system that focuses on population health solutions. Working with clinicians and our health plan, we’re discharging patients with congestive heart failure and those in need of advanced illness care through Vivify’s technology. When we discharge these patients, we can measure how they are functioning outside our walls. Most importantly, we can intervene if patients aren’t following their care routine before they have to come back into the hospital. Rather than having these patients in the hospital, we can use in-hospital care to treat acute conditions, utilizing services in an appropriate manner.

3. I’m hopeful for the future.

This year’s Health 2.0 was the best yet. This was also the first Health 2.0 conference under the HIMSS umbrella, and as Chair of the HIMSS Innovation Committee, I was excited to see the chemistry in action! Leaders from health plans, health systems, technology companies, and startups were brought together to engage, discuss, debate, and set sights high on what the future of health care looks like. Healthcare is a highly regulated environment that is required to follow the law while simultaneously being forced to innovate. There’s natural tension between the environment we operate in and the need for innovation. Luckily, this has opened doors for non-traditional health care companies and people to come into the space and provide solutions for the challenges our industry faces. Having met so many great people working to solve these challenges, I am energized for what is happening now and what the future holds. I believe it will be a place where innovation creates a positive change, and those involved are having fun.