Everybody at HIMSS, the annual health care IT conference (http://www.himssconference.org/) is telling the same story. Regulations and the need to reduce the burden of healthcare costs on the American economy is driving innovation to more efficient models of care delivery. The engine behind this drive is a changing model of incentives that reward quality and punish uncoordinated poor-quality care.


Mark Bertolini, CEO of Aetna (HIMSS keynote speaker)

In his keynote address yesterday, Mark Bertolini, CEO of Aetna, spoke to the fact that 50% of adult Americans have at least one chronic disease. His challenge to the assembly was to figure out a way to ensure that these people’s diseases would be well managed by using a combination of patient engagement with technology and care coordination. On Sunday, Stephen Rosenthal, president of the Care Management Company of Montefiore Medical Center, which delivers over 25% of the $12 BB health care spend to the population of the Bronx, spoke of the fact that when considering the coordination of care, the social aspects of care such as the housing situation of a patient must be a core consideration. In fact, he stated that the Montefiore ACO will pay for temporary housing for its indigent population with significant disease, because paying for this housing plus the cost of health care is less expensive than paying for the care of a homeless person. At the core of these changes in the care delivery model is the need to see people at the center of the care continuum. Those who are healthy need tools to stay healthy. Those who are ill need tools to manage their diseases. Data is at the core of it all. Assembling the information necessary to delivery personalized care at the individual level, evaluating that single person’s situation against a cohort of people in an organization's care in order to help the person exceed the norms of the cohort, and evaluating the cohort of people cared for by an institution against the broad epidemiological information about the general population is the key differentiated fact transforming these aspirations into reality.