By Lori Lawrence, Business Development Executive, Lumeon

The Texas Hospital Association, one of the largest hospital associations in the country, hosts its THA Annual Conference and Expo to provide a window on Texas healthcare as well as on innovation in the broader healthcare landscape.

Texas is an interesting case. Due to the state’s sheer size, 85% of Texas hospitals are rural, yet they serve only 15% of its population. With a large pool of uninsured and substantial Medicaid underpayment to rural hospitals, Texas faces spiraling healthcare costs. The state dedicates almost half of its state budget to healthcare spending. Its geography and population present unique challenges and opportunities to healthcare providers, particularly in how they engage patients and deliver care.

It’s important for health IT innovators like Lumeon to understand healthcare institutional challenges in a variety of environments — large and small health systems, rural as well as urban settings. So, we found a lot to interest us at the THA 2019 Conference on February 21-22 in Austin. We learned not only about healthcare in Texas but also heard from a range of speakers who offered intriguing perspectives and touched on innovation and opportunities.

Here are a few of our top takeaways.

Prioritize innovation over tradition. Innovators should lead, not follow. And leading means questioning traditions, designing past constraints and looking at ways to make every aspect of a system better. In healthcare IT this often equates to the EHR. John Rossman, former Amazon executive and expert on digital disruption urged providers to “look beyond what you have spent in time and money on the EHR, and do things better for your staff and patients through further innovation”.

To learn about patient experience, talk to your patients. It’s essential to measure patient experience at the individual transaction level, not at the macro level. How do your patients interact with your service? What challenges or frustrations does it present them? If you don’t know these intimate details, a macro view of your patients’ patterns may be misleading.

Medication adherence is key. According to Dr. Marc-David Munk, associate chief medical officer at CVS, “the five top chronic diseases diabetes, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, asthma, and depression — can all be managed via medication adherence and getting the patient to do the right things. Doing so hugely reduces costs further down the road.”  Solutions that help patients do so have great potential for cost savings.

Behavior health should be part of holistic care. Behavioral health is particularly difficult for healthcare institutions to manage. One way of improving behavioral healthcare is to shift toward a more holistic view of patient health.

ACOs need patient- and data-management help. Accountable Care Organizations tend to face patient-management problems. Clinicians struggle to get the correct data at the point of care. Delivering coordinated programs for chronic care management and preventative care is resource intensive and inefficient. ACOs must improve patient management if they are to deliver on their potential. Technological solutions such as Care Pathway Management that solve these problems can be invaluable.

We learned a lot about how the Texas healthcare system is developing at the THA 2019 event. It was a great opportunity to meet senior executives from provider organizations, and ensure we understand their evolving challenges as we continue to support them prioritize innovation over tradition over the coming year.