At HIMSS17, HealthcareNOWradio.com's Carol Flagg interviewed Shaun Alfreds, HealthInfoNet's chief operating officer, to discuss the event's key takeaways, HealthInfoNet's focus on social determinants of health, and more.
Carol Flagg: Hi and welcome back. I'm Carol Flagg, reporting for HealthcareNow Radio at HIMSS17 in Orlando. Right now, I'm with Shaun Alfreds, the COO of Maine HealthInfoNet. Shaun, how are you today?
Shaun Alfreds: I'm well. How are you?
Carol Flagg: I'm doing fine. Thank you. How is your HIMSS experience going so far?
Shaun Alfreds: So far, so good. I've gotten a chance to meet with a lot of great people, a lot of colleagues and vendors. So it's been really helpful for us.
Carol Flagg: So what are your impressions and takeaways this year at HIMSS? Obviously population health is on everybody's mind, as well as some other things. But pop health is certainly leading the charge.
Shaun Alfreds: I think you're right. I think population health is really important. I think precision medicine is a term that I'm hearing a lot. We heard it in the keynote yesterday from IBM Watson's CEO. And I see that even in our own business needs. When I'm talking to organizations, that's the first thing that comes up.
Carol Flagg: So for our listeners who may not be familiar with HealthInfoNet, talk to us a little bit about what it is you do.
Shaun Alfreds: Sure. HealthInfoNet operates and manages the statewide health information exchange in the state of Maine. We collect and aggregate data from 37 hospitals and about 550 ambulatory practices into a single patient health record, and then we build precision analytics on top of that to support providers, care managers, Medicaid agency, and public health in making decisions.
Carol Flagg: This is where the Population Health management really comes into play, isn't it? Once the data has been gathered?
Shaun Alfreds: Yes.
Carol Flagg: So what is going on with you right now? What's trending? Any new products coming out? What's the latest with HealthInfoNet?
Shaun Alfreds: So right now, we're really focused on social determinants of health and broadening our perspective around the medical record to be more than just a medical record, but more the record of services that a person delivers and "How do we aggregate more data into our data set to help that person stay healthy?"
Carol Flagg: And so you're talking about a particular platform.
Shaun Alfreds: Yeah. We're working on expanding our platform (and) working with our vendor, Orion (Health), to implement a new type of data system that allows us to process a lot more unstructured data but then use that in specific workflows targeted at the user.
Carol Flagg: And how does this benefit the provider?
Shaun Alfreds: Well, it benefits the provider in many ways. The first major benefit is getting the provider access to the right information at the right time, rather than this broad brush, "Here's all the information on the patient." It's going to help us to really hone down so I can get the right information—just the information that's needed for the provider in front of them at the right time. It's also going to allow us to bring more information to the table. So for example today, when you go to a hospital and the provider is looking up your medical record, all they're seeing are the medical activities that's happened within that hospital or health system, or if they have access to HealthInfoNet, what's happened in other hospitals or health systems. What we're doing is saying we're going to bring in more information such as transportation and housing status, so that, as the person is being discharged, and the planners are working with a person leaving the hospital, they understand whether or not this person has stable housing or transportation to get away from the hospital and can coordinate with services, if they're getting services, to help them better get home, take care of themselves, and stay well after their visit.
Carol Flagg: So it's not just about the data?
Shaun Alfreds: It is not.
Carol Flagg: As so many things, right? Exactly. So HIMSS this year, I think we were talking a little bit before we started here, this is your seventh HIMSS? Is that correct?
Shaun Alfreds: That's right.
Carol Flagg: I've lost count. I think I'm right about the same. How do you think this HIMSS compares to, let's say, last year or the year before? I mean, we've seen this all. We've moved out of this EHR adoption/Meaningful Use incentive and now we really are into, "Okay, we've had years of plucking this data. What are we going to do with it? How are we going to get more exchange of information? How are we going to secure it?" Cyber security is obviously a big issue. And of course, population health and analytics. So that's a lot.
Shaun Alfreds: It is a lot. What I see this year that's different than previous years: in previous years, there was so much money flowing to this industry from all the federal funds that were coming through the HITECH Act, that there was a frenetic buying frenzy that was going on at HIMSS. And you saw it. The number of people that were coming to these events, the number of deals that were getting cut at these events was really high.
This year, we're in a transition period. Whether that's politically… But it's also in what we're doing as a business. We've bought the electronic health records, so now it's about optimizing them. So I'm seeing different people here. I'm seeing different conversations happening. And it's more strategic, I think, than it is operational.
Carol Flagg: Right. We're getting down to brass tacks here.
Shaun Alfreds: Yes.
Carol Flagg: Shaun, thank you so much. I appreciate your time. This has been another HIMSS highlight.
Learn more: Download our case study, “Maine HealthInfoNet Delivers a Statewide HIE Where Healthcare Providers Can Share Patient Information to Deliver Population Health,” now!