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Monday
Apr112016

At HIMSS16, Massachusetts Leads Health IT into Next Stage of Data Analytics and Value-Based Care

Massachusetts is known for pioneering healthcare reform programs that led national efforts and we continue to demonstrate leadership in advancing quality improvements in healthcare delivery.  At the recent annual HIMSS16 conference in Las Vegas, where approximately 42,000 health IT vendors and customers convened to exchange the latest information on health IT and analytics innovations, it was clear that Massachusetts is in the pole position to retain the lead in developing the next generation of health IT and analytics solutions.

Healthcare analytics depend on a reliable foundation for data collection and data management. With database infrastructure that serves 2/3 of the US population via its healthcare provider clients, InterSystems has played a key role in establishing the health IT foundation. Although they have generally operated behind-the-scenes, InterSystems is moving into a more visible role as they offer solutions for care coordination and advanced data analytics. I expect more people in healthcare will know their name in the future.

InterSystems booth at HIMSS16

GE, IBM and Xerox are extremely well-known corporate names that are recognized in the healthcare sector. These storied corporate brands have demonstrated a history of innovation and reinvention that they are applying to an array of data management, analytics, and connected health initiatives. With decades of experience in enterprise computing and cultures that are skilled at integrating acquisitions to build best-of-breed solutions, these corporate giants will likely remain leading names in healthcare for the foreseeable future.

There are far too many product and corporate development announcements made at HIMSS to attempt a recap, even if it were limited to companies with strong ties to Massachusetts. However, the announcement of the $2.6 billion acquisition of Truven Health Analytics by IBM Watson is one that captured a lot of attention. Furthermore, I heard from more than a few experienced health IT professionals who would jump at the opportunity to join IBM’s expanding team at its new Watson Health headquarters near Kendall Square.

In healthcare, financial incentives and regulatory requirements factor into most major business and clinical decisions.  Telehealth is a great example. The technology has been available for some time, but regulations held back the supply of doctors available to practice across state lines. More important, the lack of a clear path for reimbursement constrained interest from clinicians. With the advent of recognition of the value of telehealth by payers, Boston-based American Well has been able to expand its portfolio of services to include multiway video, a mobile SDK, and the Telemed Tablet that facilitates specialist consultations via mobile teleconferencing.

Securing access to protected health information is another area where the right technology can overcome barriers to efficient workflow. Lexington-based Imprivata, a leading provider of health IT solutions for single sign-on and secure communications, is known for its clever and informative presentations at HIMSS which attract a large audience to its booth every year and didn’t disappoint this year.

Imprivata booth at HIMSS16

The overarching theme of my coverage of HIMSS16 has been how health IT has entered a more mature phase, where basic IT capabilities are a required part of doing business and more advanced solutions are in the spotlight. New value-based care and payment models depend on a higher degree of care coordination and need to involve patients in care decisions. Massachusetts has many early-stage and more “mature” health IT companies that offer solutions for secure communications, data exchange, population health analytics, and patient decision tools that all contribute to a more efficient connected care continuum. Other notable MassTLC member companies that are playing a role in transforming healthcare & were represented at HIMSS16 run the gamut from start-up PatientPing, not-for-profit government systems engineering and analysis company Mitre, and big data analytics company, Optum Labs and athenahealth, whose CEO, Jonathan Bush, always manages to capture the spotlight at HIMSS.

HIMSS is not just a conference; it is an event that combines education sessions, keynote addresses, exhibit hall demonstrations, and social events. Health IT companies from Massachusetts also stood as sponsors of some of the “must-attend” social events, too. Here’s a picture of the author at HIStalkapalooza, posing with Elvis and Pat Rioux, who works for Elsevier in the Boston area. Elsevier and athenahealth are both sponsors of HIStalkapalooza.

 

Janice McCallum, “Elvis”, and Pat Rioux at HIStalkapalooza, HIMSS16

This article first appeared in the MassTLC blog: http://blog.masstlc.org/2016/03/at-himss16-massachusetts-leads-health.html. This is an updated version and is republished here with permission. 

Thursday
Jan152015

Springer Science+Business Merges with Holtzbrinck’s Macmillan Science Group

One could get dizzy trying to trace the M&A history of Springer Science+Business. I recall analyzing their likely future back when they were owned by two private equity companies, Cinven and Candover in the mid-2000s. Cinven & Candover had formed Springer Science + Business by merging Kluwer Academic Publishing with Springer in 2004. In late 2009, Cinven & Candover  sold Springer Science + Business to EQT, a Swedish private equity firm, for 2.3 B EUR (note, Springer held 2.2 B EUR of debt at the time).

In 2013, EQT sold Springer to BC Partners for 3.3 B EUR.

Today, it was announced that BC Partners will merge Springer with Holtzbrinck Publishing Group’s Macmillan Science Group (well, almost all of MSG). Holtzbrinck becomes majority investor with a 53% stake; BCP retains minority ownership. Derk Haank, the CEO of Springer, will become CEO of the combined company. Annette Thomas, current CEO of Macmillan, will serve as Chief Scientific Officer.

The combined entity will have 13,000 employees and annual sales of 1.5 B EUR ($1.7 B US).

The rationale for the merger centered on the need for market share in the scholarly publishing segment. Derk Haank is quoted as saying, “Together, we will be able to offer authors and contributors more publishing opportunities and institutional libraries and individual buyers will have more choice. The expected economies of scale will allow for additional investments in new product development.” 

Scale and market share are becoming increasingly important as large publishers, including Elsevier, Wolters Kluwer, and Wiley, along with Springer, are competing to acquire titles from scholarly societies and other small publishers. Having control over the high quality scientific and medical journal content allows the big publishers to reinforce the value of bundled access to their collective publications (as well as subsets of their publications). But, perhaps more important, by accumulating rights to a significant share of the journals that serve as the arbiters of quality research— and by association, quality scientific and medical evidence—these leading scientific, technical and medical (STM) publishers will remain essential to any analytics engine that aims to mine the universe of important research results.

In brief, scale affords digital information businesses far more options in their choice of business models than would be available to a small publisher. Springer Science + Business now has Nature and its portfolio of journals in its camp. Together, they should be able to better compete in a segment that will continue to consolidate.

Wednesday
Mar022011

HIMSS11: Laying the Foundation for Data-Driven Applications

The HIMSS conference was in Orlando, the home of DisneyWorld, last week and it was indeed like an amusement park for health IT professionals.  So many attractions: vendor demos to view in the exhibit hall, concurrent education sessions, and so many colleagues, clients and prospects in one place that it’s difficult to not suffer information overload.  And, I didn’t even mention the receptions and parties (most of which I was too drained to attend).

Meaningful Use = Content + IT

Unlike some of the IT professionals at the conference who felt that HIMSS11 lacked the level of creative innovations on display in past years, I was excited by the progress made in building the infrastructure that will enable a new class of data-driven innovations.  Granted, it was a bit repetitive to have so many vendors touting their ability to help providers meet Meaningful Use requirements and demonstrating what looked like the same dashboard for reporting core quality measures.  But looking beneath the surface to consider how much progress has been made in the past 12 months in shifting the focus from the technology to what can be done once content flows through the technology platform gave this data geek reason to be optimistic about the future.  In fact, I use the word “exciting” twice in this video interview I did with Liza Sisler from Proficient at HIMSS.

Interoperability

Among the highlights for me at HIMSS11 was the Interoperability Showcase, which I found both extremely useful and rather mind-blowing.  The Showcase was useful in understanding a variety of use cases where standards are being applied—mostly in pilot programs—to exchange, aggregate, and analyze data.  The mind-blowing aspect relates to the sheer number of agencies and IT consulting firms working on pieces of the overall infrastructure and regulations, coupled with the realities of our not-so-united states that result in lack of nationwide master indexes and formats.  See Keith Boone’s post called Putting the Lego Together to get a sense of the current state of standards for HIE.

Translating research for clinical decision support tools

I was also pleased to attend the Elsevier press briefing at HIMSS11 where they demonstrated their Smart Content system that builds automated bridges between Elsevier’s extensive body of research information and their clinical decision support (CDS) tools.  Reconfiguring existing research knowledge that largely resides in textual formats for use in clinical applications is a major undertaking and it’s encouraging to see that the largest publisher of research journals has made significant progress in this regard.  On a wider scale, the research community is making progress in reporting results that can more easily be extracted for further analysis (e.g., ClinicalTrials.gov current reporting formats), but crosswalks between research specialties and different types of media will be needed for the foreseeable future, especially as more collaboration occurs between researchers.

Social, mobile, local

The HIMSS conference itself is a perfect use case for the value of social and mobile media. (See Jane Sarasohn-Kahn’s terrific presentation at HIMSS on this topic.)  Without my smart phone and Twitter, I would never have been able to connect with as many people as I did.  Even with these social, mobile and local tools, I managed to miss a few people due to meeting overruns and technical glitches (i.e., connectivity problems in the massive convention center).  But, being able to connect with dozens of people from my online community at an event that had over 31,000 attendees — and share information with the broader online community who weren’t at the conference—clearly demonstrated the value of social, mobile and local media.