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In honor of National Health Information Professionals Week we had the privilege of engaging with NantHealth’s dedicated health information professionals, delving into their backgrounds, insights, and observations within the dynamic landscape of health information. Joining us in this dialogue were the following team members:

Director, Product Management

Senior Program Manager

Director, Product Management

How did you get started in healthcare?

BILL: I have always been interested in our healthcare industry, but even more so after a college internship where I was responsible for medical record data entry to support a health plan’s HEDIS reporting. The manual effort of transcribing historical events and results from medical records made me think about ways to use technology to improve and automate as much of the health care process as possible. I began working for Eviti shortly after the internship ended as I was interested in how we were using the combination of technology and clinical expertise to automate as much of the authorization process as possible and ensure high quality cancer care.

AMY: I started in high school, volunteering in the local hospital Physical Therapy clinic. When I went to college, I discovered Recreational Therapy and chose that as my career path. My internship was done here in Pennsylvania at a wonderful physical rehab facility that used treatment teams to assist patients in getting adjusted to their new physical limitations. I moved to PA after college, but the rehab hospital had changed ownership and philosophy. Gone were the amputee golf, wheelchair tennis and basketball teams, and Equestrian therapy programs. If a therapy was not covered by insurance, it was no longer “in the budget.” The Recreational Therapy program I knew had become the evening and weekend activities department expected to provide entertainment when patients did not have insurance covered therapies scheduled. I moved to a new facility that was the first in the area to try to develop a secure memory care unit based on a social model rather than a medical model. I came to NantHealth, then NaviMedix, in 2002 as a young start up.

DENNIS: My background is in Television and Radio. I worked for a while at a popular Boston radio station, and I worked for a while at our regional sports channel. While at the sports station I developed some databases for managing recordings and airings. This led to an opportunity with a software company that was developing Human Resources benefits software. I thought it was the right time to change industries.

From there I became a programmer for a company that made IVR (voice response) solutions for company HR benefits enrollment. This was my introduction to various types of insurance benefits and how they work. This company also developed a benefits enrollment web product, and so I began learning Java and web programming.

I was able to work with many different types of payers, and I went there to work on benefits for them. Following that I signed on with NaviNet, and I have been here ever since.

What are your responsibilities at NantHealth?

BILL: As a Product Manager, I am responsible for driving our Eviti product roadmap and ensuring that our product plan aligns with our company vision, business goals, and market demand. This requires continuous input from our strategy, engineering, clinical, design, sales, client, and user stakeholders. I am constantly defining and prioritizing requirements for enhancements and features to build into our product based on customer needs and market trends. This process requires regular analysis of our product performance and client feedback to try and determine the best way to improve our product and optimize our user experience.

AMY: Currently, I work with the Eviti team as a Program Manager doing Implementations. I previously was part of the Customer Success team, in all its various department names over the years. I began here working in the field, being a road warrior, doing onsite training before the dawn of online seminar capabilities to facilitate remote learning.

DENNIS: I lead a team of product managers. We work with stakeholders to define products and product enhancements. Once a given project is prioritized, we will work with functional and technical teams to create the design for the feature. Over the course of the project, we work with engineering to build the software, and with other groups such as marketing, customer success, etc. to roll the feature out to users. There are a lot of activities that need to be coordinated.

Product management also provides thought leadership and problem solving skills to help advance the product and to help customers solve complex problems. We pay attention to industry and product trends, work with customers and providers to understand their problems and needs so we can build solutions that address these issues.

What are some of the biggest challenges you currently see in health information? And how do they impact what you do?

BILL: I think the largest challenge with health information today is the lack of seamless integrations across disparate healthcare applications. This prevents the efficient exchange of patient data, leading to fragmented care and communication gaps. There have been great improvements as organizations have attempted to standardize the format in which health information is stored and transmitted, but there will continue to be challenges based on limited adoption and implementation of the standardized models, constraints in which data elements fit into the standardized model, constant mapping of new and updated code sets, and a reliance on unstructured data elements.

Our Eviti Connect product aims to provide high-quality, high-value cancer care by validating that a proposed treatment aligns with our comprehensive library of evidence-based treatment standards. Access to the patient’s health information, which may be stored across several different applications such as the EMR (Electronic Medical Record), pathology and lab systems, and practice management tools, is critical to making this process as efficient as possible.

AMY: Resource constraints, both internal and with customers, are always a hurdle. Also, the changing landscape of accreditations can be a challenge.

DENNIS: There are many barriers to providing the highest level of care possible. Ultimately patient care lies at the heart of everything we do in healthcare. Clinicians need to be able to maximize efficiency and effectiveness to provide the highest level of care possible. Systems need to be interoperable using common standards to be able to deliver important information and workflows to our providers at the point of care. We follow these goals when building our products.

A key issue is the lack of open interoperability currently available and the lack of industry resources to address this issue. Interoperability is improving across the industry, but it is still emerging and has many challenges. We also need to see the healthcare community’s commitment to creating this type of environment by dedicating time and resources to addressing the problem.

The impact on this to Product Managers is that we need to find innovative and creative ways to improve efficiency and effectiveness, while at the same time focusing on providing solutions that can work together easily to eliminate the barriers that providers face in their practices.

How do you see the role of health information professionals evolving in the context of advancing technology and healthcare regulations?

BILL: As technology and regulations continue to advance, we need to prioritize data integrity. Health information professionals must ensure compliance with stringent regulations while continuing to drive innovation. There will continue to be exciting enhancements in artificial intelligence and interoperability regulations that will highlight the need to ensure data is used accurately and appropriately. There is little to no margin for data errors in healthcare, especially now that this information is leveraged by the provider at the point of care to assist in the treatment decision process.

We must continue to facilitate interoperability among diverse systems, enabling the seamless exchange of patient information to enhance care coordination and patient health outcomes, while also building in appropriate testing and continuous monitoring to validate data accuracy. Ultimately, we must continue leveraging technology for advancing healthcare delivery and coordination while upholding regulatory compliance, data quality, and patient privacy.

AMY: In my opinion, navigating the technology landscape as it exists now and incorporating AI will be a vital role for HIPs in the coming years. HCOs are firm in how things should be, and AI is quickly bending those rules. Being knowledgeable and flexible will be key to success in the future.

DENNIS: In my opinion, Health IT needs to be building open networks that allow automated workflows. Healthcare regulations will continue to emerge, but to be effective, health IT providers should strive for interoperability even before standards are enforced. Our role will be to build an interconnected healthcare network that can support new emerging technologies.

Because of this, professionals need to keep current on trends and technologies that are being used to automate and improve workflows. Understanding emerging regulations, interoperability standards, networking concepts, automation and AI technologies, and the myriad of new approaches that are being developed to connect healthcare, is key.

Product strategies need to be very forward-thinking and consider what the healthcare IT landscape will look like in the next 2, 5, 10 years. To be effective, they will need to understand these new technologies and how to leverage them in their products. They should be open to moving away from traditional ways of doing things. IT professionals will need to keep up with the latest technologies, just like our providers need to keep up with new clinical research.

In your opinion, what are key trends or developments in health information that professionals should be aware of?

BILL: I’m sure this won’t be an original response, but I don’t think we can discuss emerging health information trends without mentioning artificial intelligence and machine learning. These tools will continue to improve healthcare decision making and back-office efficiencies by providing relevant data and treatment options to the provider at the point of care and then streamlining the administrative responsibilities completed by the physician and the office staff. This will free up the provider’s resources from administrative burdens and allow them to refocus on the patient and deliver high quality care. Understanding how these technologies work and their implications is going to be essential for health information professionals going forward.

AMY: I read an article recently that resonated with me heavily. I think that AI will continue to be an expansive trend, whether organizations embrace it or fight it. But, like this article states, AI still needs “mindful and imaginative guidance.” I think that’s where Health Information professionals will shine in the future.

DENNIS: Modernizing outdated technologies is compulsory to enable innovation. Companies that rely too much on outdated technologies will be unable to compete in an innovative, fast-moving environment. Embracing new technologies and ways of doing things is important for any IT infrastructure to evolve.

Health IT professionals should understand the potential benefits of data analysis that can be used to improve processes and generate insights. Health IT professionals should quickly ramp up AI and the myriad of advances it can provide. Automation can be used in nearly every workflow. Health IT professionals need to be collaborative with providers in all aspects in the treatment of patients, such as removing data silos, finding ways to responsibly share data, following emerging regulatory mandates, and developing concepts for the end-to-end user experience, which may include a combination of manual and automated workflows.

Healthcare participants are tired of the old, ineffective ways of working. The primary focus is on removing barriers and improving processes. Think of the trend of doctors changing practice or even leaving healthcare because of the issues they face, and always remember that reducing providers’ burdens and increasing quality care are the ultimate goals.

NantHealth | Technology that Simplifies Healthcare.