Posted and filed under Events, Healthcare.

AFCEA Bethesda Chapter’s Health IT Day is an annual gathering that operates as a nexus of information exchange for Health Information Technology and Cyber Security Professionals. CXO level executives from federal and civilian initiatives gather to discuss healthcare for civilians and military consumers – and how to improve the healthcare experience through interoperability. With Keynotes from extraordinary leaders in the government space, from Raquel Bono (DHA) to LaVerne H. Council (VA), it’s no mystery how this year’s Health IT Day drew in a record turnout.

Health IT Day 2016 is the perfect celebration of Cyber Security Awareness Month, as the topic of the “cloud” and free data made several appearances. Health IT relies heavily on the use of cloud data for information transport and EHR management, but it’s vulnerabilities and shortcomings have become more prominent. Ronald Thompson of Veteran Affairs spoke on utilizing the cloud to improve performance and expand capability. One strategy with resonance requires the leveraging of the cloud to deidentify the data of veteran’s records in order to further secure health data. The cloud could also be used to simplify the services that are offered to vets, which would contribute to the modernization of EHR and an improvement to the customer experience.

Every breakout session, panel, and keynote so far supported a similar concept; one that recognizes the continued intersection of technology and biology. Big Data, for example, can be used to drastically reduce patient suffering when it comes to diseases such as Alzheimer’s, diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer. The analysis of Big Data has allowed the healthcare industry to understand patients, which leads to the improvement of care delivery models. This is a huge win for the healthcare’s information technology sector, as technology is finally being harnessed to cultivate a real sense of hope in patients.

LaVerne H. Council was at the forefront of a riveting panel on improving healthcare for veterans. Driven by a personal incentive to serve the veteran population, 60% of the men in Council’s family were veterans. These numbers certainly resonated with attendees, as many families have similar connections to the military. Discussing the transition away from fee-for-service models to interoperability, she called into question the industry’s willingness to actively evolve, rather than simply state it. In an industry prone to administrative stagnation and lengthy waits for change, this was a rousing speech.

As we reflect on Health IT Day 2016, we know it is far from over. We are currently networking during the tail end of lunch session, exchanging ideas for innovation in the federal space. Health IT is on the precipice of evolution, with the next wave of IT Analytics just off shore, and the government’s continued participation in data management improvement. CMS has proven this time and time again, by implementing advanced cybersecurity measures into several government offices. Protected the data of healthcare beneficiaries of all kinds is of utmost importance…but there is always a need for adaptation. The “Guardians of Data” must continue to stand at the forefront, but they can’t do it alone.

Bringing back the words of LaVerne H. Council, the protection of data and the improvement of consumer experience is very much a battle between, “what you are willing to do versus what you are willing to say.”

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