This content is part of the Conference Coverage: HIMSS 2016 conference coverage and analysis

Improving patient experience on HIMSS 2016 agenda

CRM systems, such as Salesforce's, are examples of vendors at the HIMSS conference trying to improve the patient experience, says health IT consultant Murtuza Mukadam.

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LAS VEGAS -- It's all about improving the patient experience.

Or, at least, it should be, Murtuza Mukadam, senior director, global head of healthcare strategy and solutions for Virtusa Corp., says in this podcast recorded on the HIMSS 2016 floor.

Mukadam says among the biggest buzz at this year's edition of the Healthcare Information Management and Systems Society's annual conference and exhibition are health IT systems designed to make the experience of healthcare for patients more pleasurable, convenient and efficient.

Murtuza Mukadam, senior director, global head of healthcare strategy and solutions, Virtusa CorporationMurtuza Mukadam

In fact, Virtusa, based in Westborough, Mass., was sharing a booth at HIMSS 2016 with Pegasystems Inc., a customer relationship management (CRM) vendor, with a big healthcare footprint.

Virtusa, a worldwide IT consulting firm, with a significant healthcare emphasis, also had its own booth in the "Connected Health Experience" section of the exhibition, which showcased mobile devices and applications, wearables, telehealth and remote patient monitoring.

Virtusa is also a partner of CRM giant Salesforce, which was making a big splash at HIMSS 2016 with its Salesforce Health Cloud system. Another big healthcare CRM company, Evariant Inc., was also in force at HIMSS 2016.

The CRM systems these companies have developed are aimed at helping healthcare providers and payers improve patient engagement by communicating with and holding onto patients, as well as market their services better and analyze patient data to improve patient experiences.

That's a worthy goal, Mukadam says in the podcast.

Also buzzworthy at the sprawling, and sometimes chaotic show, are Internet of Things for healthcare applications, cybersecurity and all kinds of analytics systems, Mukadam says.

HIMSS 2016 is expected to draw some 50,000 attendees and feature participation from all sectors of the health IT world, including vendors, providers, payers, government regulators and consultants.

Transcript - Improving patient experience on HIMSS 2016 agenda

Hi, I'm Shaun Sutner, news and feature writer for SearchHealthIT. I'm here with Murtu Mukadam, senior director for healthcare solutions at Virtusa, a worldwide IT consulting firm. Glad to have you here, Murtu.

Murtuza Mukadam: Thanks for having me.

Improving patient experience through health data analytics

Okay, now that the healthcare world is digitized -- everybody has EHRs [electronic health records] -- what's next, and what is happening here at HIMSS that shows what's next?

Mukadam: You're right: EMRs [electronic medical records] have been digitized. I think over the past decade or so, over $31 billion has been spent on EMR, so now the question really is, "How do you take the EMR and extend it further? How do you bring value out of all the data that's been captured on the EMR? How do you do better analytics to improve patient outcome?" I think that's kind of the next frontier. Cybersecurity, again, is a big issue, so management of the data, security around the data. And then again on the data team, the interoperability, meaning the data that exists, how do you better share that data around patient outcome? And how do you do all of this at a reduced cost? 

Murtu, what are you telling your clients about continuity of care management, and what kind of new technologies are coming into care management, perhaps like internet of things [IoT]?

Mukadam: Care management is definitely ... a big topic, and our clients, primarily, are hospital systems. We work with a lot of health insurance companies, and we're getting them to think about care management from four dimensions. Them being, the first one is around the platform, right? So do you have the right platform that enables you to do the right care management? 

The other thing is around analytics. People have been doing analytics segmentation, those types of things, for a while now. But how do you use cognitive analytics? How do you use the power of things like IBM Watson and some of those things to go further? The third thing that we're asking that people are looking at is IoT. So with the proliferation of devices ... [there are] postal Fitbit devices types of things, all the way to handheld ultrasound machines. How do you take the data from that, and how do you make real-time decisions to improve care? 

The fourth thing is really on patient experience. You can have all of those components, but usually you have to understand your audience and who you're dealing with and how you make those experiences better when it comes to simple things like medication adherence or other things. How do you truly improve that experience?  

Smart gadgets as a channel for outpatient experience improvement

What are some other aspects of the outpatient experience? You talked about medication adherence. There are some apps for that. I know one of your colleagues, Frank Palermo, has talked about it at the kiosks, and I know that Dell and other companies are doing that. What about the role of RFID tagging and stuff in the hospital?

Mukadam: Yeah, I think there are things like that. There's a lot happening in the biomed space, so you'll hear a lot about smart devices and things like smart pills. I think the thought is, how do we make decisions, how do we make actions easier for the members, so that there is better adherence, there is better clarity? Because right now there is a lot of data, but how do you make that accessible for folks? I think by focusing on those things, the hope is that, ultimately, the outcome of that patient is going to improve.

OK, we've all been wandering around HIMSS. You've been in the Connected Health Pavilion here. What have you seen in your corner of the HIMSS world over here in Connected Health, which is a really interesting corner, and what do you see are some of the broader trends here at HIMSS and in health IT?

Mukadam: Again, I think some of the themes, smart devices again are definitely something. Phillips and others, they're all kind of showcasing some of their new futuristic devices, and they're looking to improve health for a segment, whether it's the seniors or whether it's someone that has cancer -- how do you make their lives better? So that seems to be a big theme. 

I think data and security around that has been a big topic, and you see that a lot of firms are coming up with solutions of how do you take data from devices, from EMR systems, from other places and how do you transport them and make the data secure in the hands of the patient and in the hands of the providers? 

Improving patient engagement with healthcare CRM

HIMSS is a wild and crazy place. It lasts three or four days more. What are you hoping to see when you walk around, and also what is your company -- a company like you -- what are you here to do?

Mukadam: Some of the things that I'd like to see [are] ... there are a lot of vendors out there that are providing point solutions. The question is, has anyone truly taken an end-to-end process? What I mean by that is, if you think about a simple journey that a customer might have all the way from figuring out an insurance product; all the way to enrolling in it; and understanding, kind of, what that means, there are many vendors that do point solutions. The question is, has someone really, truly taken some of those solutions from an end-to-end perspective [to] see if it's HIPAA compliant and some of those things?

Is Salesforce trying to do that with its healthcare CRM?

Mukadam: I think what Salesforce is trying to do is it's trying to provide a platform that enables health companies, whether they're ... providers or frankly even payers who to actually use the platform to build out those interim solutions. So Salesforce is a good example of someone that we're partnering with to help build those solutions that we can take to the market. 

Today, I met with Oracle, who says they're selling an enterprisewide analytics platform. Do you think things like that will be successful?

Mukadam: Yeah, absolutely. I mean Oracle is one, SAP and Hydrasolutions, actually, and what they do on the HANA platform is also looking to do the same thing. And actually, I believe that SAP has a very good relationship with Epic, and remember how I talked about how we need to take data from a lot of these EMRs? I mean, Epic is one of the largest ones. They're partnering with Epic to see how data from Epic can be taken, rationalized, analyzed in ways that Epic is not able to do. So that's definitely a theme, and that's something that it'll definitely be growing.

Patient-centric thinking required for improving patient experience

One last question: What are you telling your clients who are here at HIMSS? What's next? What should they be doing to optimize their providers or payers?

Mukadam: I think the biggest thing is really, depending on who you are, putting the patient at the center, or putting your customer at the center of what needs to happen. How are you making things more accessible? How are you making things more flexible? How are you making it easier for them to achieve some of the outcomes? I think that's the key. Rather than looking inside out, you've got to look at what the patient is looking to do, and how can your products or solutions really enable them.

So it's patient engagement and patient experience more than necessarily the latest super whizbang technology. 

Mukadam: Exactly, you can have the latest technology, but the question is, are you tying it in a way to their life, as part of their activity, or something that truly helps them solve a particular problem or make their life easy in a particular way? I think, thinking it from that perspective and all the different things that you can do to enable that, I think the companies, healthcare organizations, that are able to do that are the ones that are going to be successful.

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