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Perceptions

Nanette Mills

Can the NHS go paperless by 2020?

Healthcare

“Is a paperless National Health Service (NHS) by 2020 feasible?” was the question asked during a panel discussion at UK e-Health Week at London’s Olympia. The answer? “Yes…but.”

The panellists, including three NHS chief clinical information officers (CCIO), a trainee anaesthetist, and vendor representatives, all agree on the importance of digitising clinical information. They also agree the NHS still needs to make large strides in the next four years to get there.

A CCIO on the panel warned organisations to take care as they go digital, so they don’t turn the relationship between clinician and patient, which is currently a narrative, into fragmented pieces of data.

Another CCIO made the point that access to funding is a major challenge to achieving a paperless NHS. She said executives need to provide leadership to prioritize competing initiatives. She went on to say there is currently a duplication of efforts across the systems largely due to traditional competiveness. She said the NHS needs to pool resources to work collaboratively with vendors instead of living in silos.

The vendor representatives provided practical lessons learned while assisting organizations to go paperless.

Dominic Kirkman, International Manager of Pre-Sales Engineering at Lexmark Healthcare, stressed the importance of thinking about the transition to paperless. “It may not be a big bang approach. You might start by capturing information on paper then scanning that paper to capture the information digitally. You can still achieve many of the benefits of going digital without going through large scale changes,” he said. “The NHS needs to look within the system at areas that already have electronic workflows. Also, you can look across Europe at places like the Nordics and the Netherlands. These places have already overcome some of the challenges facing the NHS and we should learn from them.”

Vendors need to play their part in getting to a paperless NHS by 2020, according to Graham King, Solution Architect at Lexmark Healthcare. “Vendors should develop systems that are easy to pick up by clinicians. And organisations need to look for vendors that have a modular approach to going digital. That way you can start on a foundation and then build with modules over time.”

To finish up the session, each panellist summarised the most important considerations for achieving a paperless NHS by 2020:

  • Insist on standards and interoperability from vendors. Learn from organisations that are focused on standards like Health & Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) and Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise UK (IHE-UK)
  • Develop strong clinical and executive leadership
  • Work together across national, regional and local organizations and build partnerships with vendors
  • Treat Healthcare IT as a utility within the organisation, just like water or electricity
  • Make sure the people who implement systems get all the support they need to get the last five yards between the desk and the patient correct, or else all the other investment will come to nothing
  • Develop a very clear strategy for what your organization wants to achieve, and stick to that strategy

By taking these considerations seriously and working with the right vendors to implement digital processes, the expert panellists at this year’s UK e-Health Week believe the answer to “Was the National NHS able to go paperless by 2020?” will be a resounding “yes” – no buts about it.

Grant Johnson

Five stages of digital transformation: Stage two

Digital transformation

Once you make the decision to start taking digital transformation seriously, it’s easier to keep the ball rolling. For example, think about the first question you asked yourself in our stage one assessment: can staff quickly and easily onboard new customers without making them wait in line? Or the second question: Do you invest in web, mobile or kiosk technology so customers can quickly complete a self-service transaction?

When you answered yes to those questions (or started considering how quickly you could be able to), without knowing, you were already thinking ahead to the second stage of digital transformation: the self-service stage.

Ever since 1916, when Piggly Wiggly owner Clarence Saunders first allowed shoppers to use a shopping basket and choose their own items from store shelves without the assistance of a clerk, businesses across all industries have embraced the concept of self-service. By allowing customers to scan their own barcodes after shopping, deposit their own checks via a smart phone at any hour of the day or night, choose their own event tickets and download electronically, and so on, businesses experience cost savings and increased loyalty, and customers enjoy convenience, shorter wait times and increased autonomy.

Customers enjoy these perks so much, in fact, that they’ve come to expect them. An estimate from London-based strategic research and consulting firm RBR projected the number of installed self-checkout terminals at retail stores will grow from 191,000 in 2013 to almost 325,000 by 2019.

A 2014 NCR global study found that 90% of 2,803 consumers in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, Spain, UK, and the US, identify as self-checkout users, and 7% of those will always use self-checkout, no matter how many items they’re buying or how long they need to wait.

Today, more than 80% of a retail banking customer’s interactions, including mobile check deposit and checking an account balance over the phone, take place through self-service channels.

No matter your business, your customers expect self-service with knowledgeable human assistance waiting just in the wings should it be needed. Are you ready to provide what they’re after?

Answer these questions to assess your organization's stage two progress toward digital transformation:

  • Is it easy for customers to complete self-service transactions at any time of day? And is support staff available in case they need assistance?
  • Have you removed as much friction from the self-service process as possible?
  • Do you offer pre-configured product and service packages so customers can easily choose what’s right for them?

If you answered yes to all three questions, you’ve achieved transactional status and are ready to move on to the stage three assessment questions! Does that mean your self-service offerings are exactly where they need to be? Maybe not. After all, “digital transformation doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing endeavor.” Chances are, no matter where you’re starting on the journey of self-service offerings, there are still ways to improve efficiency and increase visibility into your systems and customer behavior, even if you never work with them face-to-face. 

Robert Zoch

Renegade

Accounting and finance

The jig is up, the news is out; they’ve finally found me—

The renegade who had it made retrieved for a bounty.

Never more to go astray,

This will be the end today

Of the wanted man.

-Styx, “Renegade”

Does your purchasing department have a renegade in its midst? You know the signs—unauthorized spending, costs unaccounted for, the quick fix obtained for a premium, failure to capitalize on negotiated terms, a reliance on petty cash, and so on. These renegade spenders, with their maverick spending, are costing you money. Every day.

According to Aberdeen Group, organizations lose nearly 25% of every dollar spent on account of uncontrolled spending, usually because people are circumventing standard requisition processes, thus missing out on preferred pricing and terms.

As a procurement professional, you want to eliminate that waste, and boost your margins, freeing up that cash for any number of valuable projects or plans. Luckily, that’s our specialty. Lexmark’s purchase requisition processing solution for SAP helps eliminate renegade spenders from the equation. Here’s how it works:

  • A purchaser creates a requisition document, which is entered via a user-friendly form, with fast access to existing catalogs directing users to standard/accepted materials and services.
  • The organization customizes its review and approval workflows; all approvals leave an electronic audit trail and all relevant documentation is available on demand.
  • Final approval yields an automatic purchase order in SAP; the order is available across the purchase-to-pay (P2P) operation for quick matching with confirmations, notes and invoices, and the end-to-end document trail supports price negotiations later.

The value of automated purchasing routines was observed firsthand by Allweiler, a German manufacturer that implemented the ReadSoft Process Director application for SAP. “Highly satisfied” with the results, the organization reported a considerable efficiency gain across P2P.

“The optimizations in Procurement then also have a positive effect on the processes in Accounts,” said Boris Müller, Allweiler’s head of procurement. “It is, of course, a great advantage that by using Process Director, the number of invoices with an order reference increases. We now even record taxi rides in the SAP system. This greatly simplifies the automated assignment and subsequent processing with the invoice processing solution.”

Automating purchasing processes heightens visibility, which enables greater spend control and better standing for negotiating optimal supplier terms. You know who initiated the order, you can see who approved it, and you can then reference the data when it comes time to process the invoices. The technology fits seamlessly within the SAP environment staff is accustomed to, and workflows can be built around whichever processes and safeguards the organization deems fit. 

Stomp out wasteful spend. Follow the paper trail. Shackle that renegade.

Phil Wasson

System interoperability in healthcare IT: Why is it important?

Healthcare

What do healthcare quality, cost management, and effective delivery have in common? The answer, according to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), is system interoperability. System interoperability will allow healthcare providers to exchange patient information in order to minimize duplication, contribute data for research purposes, and allow contributions of clinical data for predictive healthcare research. Driving this initiative is the requirement to achieve health IT system interoperability improvements in healthcare.

Hospital and health system leaders are already challenged by issues that include accountable care, mergers and acquisitions, capital funding needs, and caring for a growing number of patients with fewer resources.  As if those issues were not enough to keep us all awake at night, now along come additional requirements for improved  interoperability and sharing of patient data, including the demand for data sharing with  competing healthcare delivery systems.

IT interoperability is pivotal to the success of healthcare delivery in the U.S., according to the ONC, including the capability to share information between providers, between payers and providers and between patients and providers.

At the ONC Annual Meeting, which took place in Washington D.C., ONC officials identified three specific keys to achieving these goals:

  1. Development of and adherence to common technical standards. This means all healthcare IT vendors must adhere to common technical standards when building and delivering software solutions. Lexmark is committed to this effort with its participation in the Integrated Healthcare Enterprise standards organization (IHE). IHE has actively pursued the development of common technical interoperability standards for more than 15 years.
  2. Development of a cultural change around information access. Patients and providers must adopt a new mindset related to the way they share information in order for improvements in care and outcomes to be realized.
  3. Development of a true business case for interoperability. Interoperable data exchange must be supported through development of a business case that ensures value for all stakeholders. The ONC’s approach is to tie healthcare reimbursement for Medicare and Medicaid to meaningful health IT standards, essentially creating incentives for healthcare providers to support data exchange cultures and methods.

Much of this effort has been developed by aligning Meaningful Use Stage 3 standards with the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA), also referred to as the “permanent doc fix.” MACRA contains a set of important payment provisions, including the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) which reimburses providers based on a new formula that supports payments based on four conditions: clinical quality; resource use; health IT meaningful use; and clinical practice improvement activities.

As a result of these changes to Medicare reimbursement, providers will need to adopt IT components that address these conditions. With regard to health IT meaningful use, this includes the capability to exchange clinical records with other providers and with patients in order to support improvements in clinical quality and resource use. All of these changes will require healthcare IT systems that support the measurements and improvements made within the clinician's practice. This focus on interoperability and exchange will only grow stronger as the industry evolves toward a value-based approach to patient care.

Grant Johnson

Five stages of digital transformation: Stage one

Digital transformation

Digital transformation. You hear the term so often, but you still don’t know exactly what it means, or how to make it happen. You might assume your competitors have it all figured out. But think again. According to Forrester, 73 percent of organizations don’t have a working digital strategy. So that’s the good news – you aren’t too late to take full advantage of the enhanced customer experience, streamlined operations and new business models afforded by successful digital transformation.

The bad news is that it can feel overwhelming to stand on the precipice of what sounds like a huge undertaking – transformation. Where do you start? Which of your offerings and processes are you supposed to digitize? When will you be “transformed?” But don’t worry – if you take it step by step and work with the right partners, digital transformation is not only very beneficial, but very achievable.

First things first: What is digital transformation? At its core, digital transformation is the conversion of business operations, processes, competencies and models to leverage the opportunities provided by intelligent, tailored digital technologies.

How is digital transformation assessed? We’ve determined five key stages of progress toward digital transformation: physical, self-service, mobile web, mobile app and omnichannel.

The first stage of digital transformation is the physical stage. It might seem counterintuitive, but the first step in priming your organization for digital transformation is to ensure the customer experience at your branch, office or field locations is smooth, seamless and customer-driven. While the 2015 North America Consumer Digital Banking Survey found 81% of customers would not switch banks if their primary bank closed the local branch, that doesn’t mean you can ignore your brick and mortar existence. Instead, your branches should serve as physical conduits to your digital presence.

Are you ready to check for yourself? Answer these questions to assess your organization's stage one progress toward digital transformation:

  • Can branch staff quickly and easily onboard new customers without making them wait in line?
  • Do you invest in banking kiosk technology so customers can quickly complete a self-service transaction at the bank?
  • Are your branches inviting and memorable? Do they meet expectations of both technology-driven and relationship-oriented customers, and those in between?

If you answered yes, congratulations! You’ve achieved informational status and you’re ready to move on to the stage two assessment questions. If you answered no, or you’re not really sure, congratulations to you, too! You’re perfectly positioned to begin your digital transformation journey. Learn more about digitizing the customer experience in banking, or get some expert assistance in transforming to a predominantly digital customer experience.

Phil Wasson

Issues and challenges around healthcare data sharing remain large for Federal health IT initiatives, including misalignment of data sharing incentives for competing providers as well as efforts by health IT vendors to keep data blocking practices in place.

With the advent of meaningful use initiatives, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) has made significant progress in the deployment of health IT in the U.S. Since 2008, there has been a nine-fold increase in deployment of electronic medical records (EMRs) by health systems, with 85 percent of hospitals in the U.S. now using these systems.

The ONC Annual Meeting, held this week in Washington, DC, is a convening of key stakeholders across public and private sectors to discuss ongoing work and ideas and to advance the seamless and secure flow of health information that not only enhances care, but also improves health and facilitates science and research. This year, the meeting is organized around three core commitments by market leaders, including: improving consumer access to health information; combating information blocking; and implementing Federally-recognized, national standards so different health IT systems can “speak the same language.”

This year, Larry Sitka, founder of Acuo Technologies and pioneer in the development of the vendor neutral archive (VNA), and I are representing Lexmark Enterprise Software at the meeting. 

As Lexmark Healthcare expands its footprint in healthcare IT, we believe it is critical that elected officials fully understand the issues faced by technology companies in attempting to work together for the ultimate benefit of the patient, particularly as methods of financing and delivering care shift to a value-based approach. Technology will play a key role in the successful transition to this new healthcare model. With upwards of 75 percent of healthcare information existing outside of core EMR applications, aligning with Federal incentives is a growing area of focus for Lexmark

About ONC

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) is a staff division of the Office of the Secretary, within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Created in 2004 through an executive 0rder by the Bush administration and legislatively mandated in the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act of 2009, the  ONC leads national health IT efforts. ONC is charged as the principal Federal entity to coordinate nationwide efforts to implement and use the most advanced health information technology and enable the electronic exchange of health information.

Sherlyn Manson

Digital engagement and the frat boy

Process management

Visiting the campus of my alma mater, where my son is now a student, brings back fond memories. Much is the same on this beautiful campus—it will always feel like home. But while the brick and mortar are familiar, technology has vastly improved the student experience in the last 30 years. 

My course selections were mailed to some unknown entity that, semester after semester, mistook me for a morning person. My son gets online and sees every course available, updating as needed during the enrollment period, deftly creating a schedule with no classes on Friday so he can thoroughly enjoy his Thursday nights.

This same transformation has occurred in the enterprise. Addressing a group of 1,500 Lexmark Enterprise Software partners and customers at Inspire 2016, Geoffrey Moore, author of the best-selling book Crossing the Chasm, discussed the Age of Digital Innovation—and the steps we must ascend on the “stairway to heaven” toward the peak of value to be gained from digital interaction.

It began in the 1980s, when personal computing, email, spreadsheets and other tools reengineered office work. The following decade saw the reengineering of value chains, as companies invested in client-server ERP systems and gained access to the internet. By the time we reached the “year 2000” scare, we had pretty well mastered what most of us think of as enterprise IT.

Then, as the 21st century dawned, we gained the tools needed to reengineer human experience. Thus began the Age of Information, when vast amounts of content became available online.

Today we are firmly in what Moore calls the Age of the Customer, in which digital engagement has become table stakes in winning and retaining customers. This presents a new challenge—how to connect the Systems of Record we spent billions of dollars on, to new Systems of Engagement that enable digital interactions with customers.

Bringing together these heritage Systems of Record with newer Systems of Engagement allows us to combine the operational excellence afforded by the former, with the customer intimacy provided by the latter.

The goal, according to Moore, is to automate as much as possible, while engaging as deeply as possible.

Today’s customers are sophisticated, connected and empowered. They expect intuitive and fast engagement on their terms — any device, anywhere, and at any time. Crucial business processes like opening a new account, filing a claim, admitting a patient, registering for benefits and yes, enrolling a student, should be fast, accurate and frictionless.

Executing them seamlessly gives your organization a lasting competitive advantage. And gives a frat boy a day to sleep in.

Sarah Bajek

Live from SAPPHIRE NOW + ASUG 2016

Accounting and finance

This week, Lexmark is in Orlando for SAP SAPPHIRE NOW & ASUG Annual Conference, excited to feature end-to-end Financial Process Automation for SAP solutions. Now that ReadSoft, Kofax and Perceptive Software are combined to form Lexmark Enterprise Software, SAP customers have one partner for simplified financial processing. 

We’ll be updating the blog for the whole conference so check back often to see what’s going on. If you’re in Orlando, stop by and see us at booth #670

Thursday, 3:00 pm

With so much talk of “Digital Transformation” these days, it seems that everyone has their own definition. It was interesting to sit through a SAPPHIRE NOW presentation this afternoon (“Explore the Digital Transformation and Its Impact on Financial Services”) and hear the three panel members each describe what the digital transformation means to their organization.

For some, the internet, mobile devices, social media and more have transformed customers from being seen as numbers in their system into individuals who have more options than ever of places to take their business. For others, digital transformation enables large companies to exist like never before by connecting people and systems around the world and speeding processes through automation. Or, perhaps technology advances are simply making life more convenient for both internal customers and external customers who can now do business anywhere at any time. 

Whatever definition or benefit you agree with, digital transformation seems to be at the top of most corporate strategies because it allows your business to move quickly and be where your customers need you, when they need you. See how Lexmark Enterprise Software can help power your digital transformation and leverage your existing technology investments for end-to-end financial processing

Thursday, 12:15 pm

It's been a great week at SAPPHIRE NOW, and it isn't over yet! We continue to have amazing discussions around financial processing within SAP and demonstrations of innovative intelligent capture technology at Booth 670. There's still time to stop by and see us!

Thursday, 10:45 am

Who benefits from sales order automation? The answer might surprise you:

Thursday, 10:00 am

Why are we so focused on end-to-end Financial Process Automation at SAPPHIRE NOW?

That’s easy! Automation delivers huge value beyond just invoice processing. From purchase-to-pay to order-to-cash, and record-to-report - automation platforms create opportunities to streamline more than just one component of the business chain. Because ERPs are not equipped to handle the complex activities that happen today, document process automation can fill the gaps and help you get more form your ERP investment.

Lexmark partnered with The Hackett Group in a recent webinar that discussed the many ways automation is helping organizations overcome challenges in the financial supply chain. After you watch the webinar, stop by booth 670 to see our Financial Process Automation solutions for SAP in action. 

Wednesday, 4:30 pm

Think you've optimized all of your financial processes? Think again! Sheila explains why you should never stop automating. 

Wednesday, 2:15 pm

With so many invoicing methods from so many vendors, determining the best and most cost-effective method can be difficult. Today, Wes Keller, Product Marketing Manager from Lexmark spent some time reviewing a variety of invoice methods helping session attendees calculate the right mix to drive the lowest total cost of ownership. 

Using Lexmark’s invoicing strategies by commodity as an example, Wes explained the importance of an invoicing strategy that makes sense for both your organization and your suppliers. As it turns out, it’s not one size fits all but the right mix is key to minimizing cost over the invoice life cycle. 

What mix of invoicing is right for you? 

Wednesday, 12:00 pm

What’s your AP Automation plan? 

Allianz Asset Management used AP automation to dramatically reduce invoice approval times, increase staff productivity and gain visibility into their processes. Today at SAPPHIRE NOW, Linda Johnson shared how they went from a completely manual AP process to automated and streamlined processing integrated with SAP. With a decision matrix of 12 priorities, including PO behavior in SAP, user-friendly GUI and more, Allianz found ReadSoft AP automation solution from Lexmark Enterprise Software to be the best fit. After implementation, Allianz found that end users were much happier. Allianz has big plans for the future, including mobile approvals, implementing AP automation in more offices and a vendor discount campaign.

Wednesday, 11:00 am

Extend automation beyond invoice processing

The same advanced Intelligent Capture technology that automates data extraction from invoices and sends it to Process Director and SAP can be used to streamline processes that depend on orders, remittances, bills of lading and other transaction documents. 

It's no wonder Process Director and Perceptive Intelligent Capture are Better Together. If you're at SAPPHIRE NOW, come by for a demonstration! 

Wednesday, 10:00 am

What's happening at the Lexmark Enterprise Software booth? Margaux fills us in:

Tuesday, 4:00 pm

What would you like to see? Demos happening now in the Lexmark Enterprise Software booth!

Check out Process Director - get the most productivity and value from your SAP investment while increasing process transparency and reducing errors by automating process chains like purchase-to-pay and order-to-cash.

Tuesday, 12:00 pm

Winning with SAP-certified AP automation workflow and supplier portal

OSRAM SYLVANIA, a leader in lighting solutions and services, processes 250,000 invoices annually with e-invoices accounting for 50,000 of that total. When it came time to upgrade its automated invoice processing application, a supplier portal was a “must have.” After a seamless transition to ReadSoft AP automation workflow application and cloud-based supplier invoice portal, OSRAM SYLVANIA has improved relations with suppliers and freed AP staff to spend more time on high-value responsibilities. Read their story, then visit us at booth 670 at SAP SAPPHIRE NOW to learn how you can streamline e-invoice processing, too. 

Tuesday, 10:30 am

We're exploring end-to-end Financial Process Automation at booth 670. Stop by to learn how ReadSoft, Kofax and Perceptive Software have come together as Lexmark Enterprise Software- one partner for simplified financial processing within your SAP solutions. We'll be doing demonstrations all day.

Plus, we're giving away Bose Headphones!

Tuesday, 9:00 am

SAP CEO Bill McDermott kicked off SAPPHIRENOW 2016 this morning energizing the crowd with the promise of The Ultimate SAPPHIRE 2016! With a focus on “keeping it real” with attendees, he discussed what an honor it is to serve SAP customers who run 39 trillion in global commerce through their systems. After all 76% of the world’s transactions run through SAP.

Bill reminded us that in today’s economy, the end customer determines whether we win or lose. “Everything has to start with an empathy for the end-user and what they get from your company,” he said. Design, thinking and innovation are the way forward. 

Robert Zoch

Beyond invoices

Accounting and finance

In a recent webinar presentation, Amy Fong of the Hackett Group discussed the current drive to achieve agility in purchase-to-pay (P2P), defining “agility” as “the ability to match an organization’s internal rate of change to the rate of change observed in the external environment.”

When it comes to achieving agility in data-driven processes, it is the data itself that presents the greatest challenges. Incoming data is highly fragmented and often unstructured in nature; ERP systems alone can be unsuited to the task of making this data easily managed, manipulated and communicated. Process centralization offers one step towards taming this data, while optimizing capabilities for reconciling incoming data with internal resources (as with invoices and purchase orders) offers another.

By their very nature, automation platforms create opportunities to streamline and optimize through their ability to consolidate data into a single, standardized input flow at one end, and improved visibility and audit support at the other. According to Fong, P2P, which incorporates two critical back office functions—requisitions and payables—represents an ideal starting point for automation. Typically, a considerable amount of unstructured data is exchanged between buyer and seller, and taming that data simplifies the verification and approval process, invoice processing, resolution of discrepancies, and reporting after the fact.

Automation’s value as a driver of end-to-end efficiency, as opposed to being a mere tool for one small component of the business chain (e.g. invoice processing), holds true similarly when applied to order-to-cash (O2C) and record-to-report (R2R) procedures.

To learn more about the many ways automation supports end-to-end process optimization across multiple financial operations, view this presentation from Lexmark and the Hackett Group.

Ken Congdon

Reimagine traditional business models to fix healthcare

Healthcare

Everybody knows the U.S. healthcare system is broken, but healthcare futurist Joe Flower illustrated just how dire the situation is during his industry keynote at Lexmark’s annual user conference, Inspire 2016. Flower laid the groundwork by citing the well-known, yet disturbing, statistic that healthcare spending accounts for more than 17 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP). He then built upon this foundation by showing how healthcare is twice as expensive in the U.S. as it is in other countries, and that there is no evidence of superior care to justify this cost disparity.

“American patients don’t get what they pay for when it comes to healthcare,” says Flower. “The system is currently killing and bankrupting its customers. That’s not a good business model.”

According to Flower, as much as 1/3 of healthcare costs today (approximately $1 trillion annually) can be attributed to waste (e.g. lost or misplaced information, unnecessary duplicate testing, labor-intensive manual processes, etc.) This waste is largely a product of the traditional fee-for-service model upon which the U.S. healthcare system is built. In short, healthcare providers are financially motivated to deliver more services, regardless of whether they are absolutely necessary. Not exactly a model for efficiency.

Software vendors have also played a part in creating healthcare technology infrastructures that perpetuate wasteful practices. Rather than delivering solutions based on, agreed upon and enforced universal standards, the vendor community has built systems dominated by proprietary coding languages. This methodology breeds disparate information silos, making critical health data extremely difficult to share within a single healthcare setting, let alone throughout a health system or with external providers in the care continuum.

The lack of interoperability inherent in health IT systems not only contributes to wasteful business operations, it has a detrimental impact on clinical processes and patient care. According to a survey referenced during Flower’s keynote, 95 percent of physicians claim they don’t have access to all the patient information necessary for the best possible diagnosis and treatment plan.

According to Flower, the key to delivering higher-quality, more cost-effective healthcare is dropping the fee-for-service business model. “Historically, the measure of success in the U.S. healthcare system has been based on revenue per coded item,” he says. “This equation delivers value to the health provider, not the patient. We need to develop a new measure of success. One that focuses on the health outcomes that matter most to patients.”

Flower already sees evidence of the transformative power of an outcomes-based healthcare system. For example, over the last few years U.S. healthcare costs have stopped rising. They have flattened out. He believes key changes to the structure of the U.S. healthcare system are impacting cost.

“With ACA and consumer-driven healthcare, we’re beginning to see an increase in bundled pricing, accountable care organizations (ACOs), direct payments, retail healthcare, and medical tourism,” says Flower. “All of these developments have one thing in common — they represent a move away from the traditional fee-for-service economics that have historically dominated the U.S. healthcare system.”

Flower sees more reason for optimism going forward. For example, he envisions a future where wearable devices, medical implants, intelligent drugs and other smart technologies help provide health IT systems with real-time data that can aid in clinical decision making. He envisions a day where genomic engineering and individual patient information paves the way for personalized treatment and medicine. However, it will be impossible for the human mind to effectively analyze and dissect much of this information. To truly unlock the power of this data, the healthcare industry needs to reimagine the role of the physician as the ultimate clinical decision maker supported by powerful information systems and artificial intelligence. The first step to realizing this new healthcare world is dropping the old fee-for-service model and creating health data systems that integrate agnostically.