Partners HealthCare Symposium: 'A new level of maturity' can boost health IT

The basic infrastructure is largely in place to foster widespread low-cost innovation in health IT, Bill Geary of Northbridge Venture Partners said as part of a panel discussion last week at the Partners Connected Health Symposium.

"We're seeing the ability on relatively small dollars to build really compelling tools that providers absolutely need to run their businesses. It's so incredibly disruptive to legacy vendors, but in healthcare, we needed to see that cost curve collapse to really get innovative products," he's quoted as saying at Mobihealth News.

The event was part of Boston's Connected Health Week, which began with leading policymakers from the United States and European Union gathering at the EU-US eHealth Marketplace and Conference to discuss how technology innovation can improve patient care and provide economic benefits, according to a post at Boston.com.

A collaboration agreement grew out of that discussion between the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative (MassTech), its Massachusetts eHealth Institute and the Grenoble, France, based group Medic@lps, with works to support innovators there. The one-year agreement focuses on innovation in tools to facilitate exchange of health information, according to an announcement.

An Innovator's Challenge at the symposium drew entries including a robot to help nurses lift patients and an insole that tracks a rehabilitation patient's stride.

"Along with an increasingly competitive industry looking for ways to improve health outcomes, we are seeing technology reaching a level of maturity that makes it both accessible and affordable for previously unavailable applications," Vaishali Kamat, Associate Director & Head of Digital Health at Cambridge Consultants, writes in the Boston.com post.

Wireless medical devices, mobile and other IT platforms have the potential to demonstrate improved outcomes and higher engagement with patients that will be required with the move to performance-based payments, he says.

In fact, Epic President Carl Dvorak called patient engagement "the last mile," the home stretch that EHR vendors are working on, according to another Mobihealth News story. He said Epic is working to enable patients to not only schedule doctor visits online, but to get those on a wait list in more quickly though a push notification on the patient's app. Epic is also working to integrate various modes of communication, such as text, interactive chat, video visits and more.

Low-income patients covered for the first time under the Affordable Care Act need clear, easily comprehensible health information to form a strong relationship with their provider, Blue Shield of California Foundation reports.

Meanwhile, critics of legislation introduced to clarify the regulation of health software say those calling for removing that authority from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and creating a new regulatory entity could leave vendors dealing with multiple agencies. In fact, one of Geary's points at the symposium was that being able to skip dealing with federal regulators helps boost innovation.

To learn more:
- find the Mobihealth News article
- read the Boston.com post
- check out the MassTech collaboration
- check out the second Mobihealth News story

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