I attended Cerner's global gathering of health care professionals beginning October 12 in Kansas City.  We discussed the future of health care, innovations, and best practices.  Cerner’s own blog recaps major events and themes.  Delaware had a strong contingent in attendance.  Cerner provides health care IT services to Christiana Care and many of Delaware’s other hospitals and physician groups.  The relationship between Delaware’s health care community and Cerner expanded as the movement to create electronic medical records (EMR) has accelerated.  As a result, Cerner now handles over 70% of Delawareans’ EMR.  Delaware connects more electronic patient records with health care providers and labs than any other state through its health information exchange, or HIE, known as the Delaware Health Information Network (the DHIN).  The DHIN’s COO, Randy Farmer, explained the DHIN’s role and vision in a recent News Journal Op Ed.

Here is my First State take on Delawareans’ health care future from the 14,000 global attendees and our host, Delaware’s largest IT vendor:

  • Delaware has a unique opportunity nationally to act as a laboratory for data driven health care solutions.
  • Delaware loses opportunities to leverage health data to create healthier individuals and communities. 
  • Control of health care spending in Delaware and globally depends on data driven solutions proven to make individuals and communities healthier. 

A few policy pivots (for which grant funding exists to implement) would put the First State first in line on these solutions and by example help convince other states to get to a better destination on the health information super highway:

  • Run a comprehensive data analytics tool such as Cerner’s Healthe Intent© across the data in the DHIN already, adding state Medicaid data.  The State’s existing population health professionals can then use the data to identify the communities and individuals with common health problems most strongly driving costs and bad individual outcomes.  The Mississippi Delta region recognizes this and is using Cerner's technology to identify pre-diabetics and pre-term births to implement interventions to reduce both, improving the lives of thousands, and saving millions.   
  • Demonstrate resulting health improvements and cost savings, then scale up implementation to other cohorts of Delawareans who are sick or at risk of developing serious problems like heart disease and diabetes.
  • Engage people where they are, on the devices they use, with caregivers they trust, to understand, measure and improve their own health situation in real time. 

According to Mr. Farmer’s op ed, the DHIN plans to give consumers a “healthcare product.”  I am interested in seeing what it is – and lack of transparency around the DHIN’s plans is a separate issue – but without the right data analytics, data driven solutions, on the ground implementation, and long term sustainability through demonstrated health care cost savings, I came away from Kansas City concerned that as much as Delaware has come to the forefront nationally on EMR and connectivity, it hasn’t taken the moon shot it could to create a healthier Delaware and address the crisis in health care spending.  On behalf of Cerner we at Morris James hope to work with all stakeholders, including the DHIN, the State Legislature, and the Department of Health to further the conversation.