HAS 24 Day 1: Charting New Waters in Healthcare as Industry Trailblazers Inspire Innovation

Posted in Feature Articles

The first day of the 2024 Healthcare Analytics Summit (HAS), an interactive, educational event for the healthcare industry, got off to a blazing start. Dan Burton, Health Catalyst’s CEO, began the day by welcoming attendees to wintry Salt Lake City, Utah, for the 10th HAS event. He emphasized that participants would have many session options in three distinct tracks centered around this year’s theme: Imagine. Innovate. Impact. 

This year’s summit programming includes industry-leading keynote speakers to help attendees imagine what’s possible, and educational breakout sessions will move ideas from inspiration to impact. HAS attendees had the opportunity to see firsthand how AI and analytics tools can power organizational transformation and network with industry leaders and problem-solvers.

As part of this year’s thematic focus, HAS 24 delved into the lessons that can be learned from both within and outside the realm of healthcare, emphasizing collaboration across all industry sectors to achieve remarkable outcomes. By sharing motivating stories and analogies, the aim was to energize healthcare providers, executives, analysts, and everyone playing a role in care delivery, operations, and finances.

Jennifer Doudna, PhD, of the University of California, Berkeley, sat down with Melissa Welch, MD, MPH, president of Welch Perspectives Healthcare Consulting, to discuss the ground-breaking discovery of CRISPR technology and its many applications in medical science, agriculture, and the environment.

Doudna rose to prominence for co-developing the CRISPR-Cas9 genome engineering technology, earning her the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. She is also the founder of the Innovative Genomics Institute (IGI) and a vocal advocate for responsible CRISPR use. In addition to the future of this cutting-edge technology, Doudna touched on the merits of genetic editing to address climate change and rare diseases and its utility in preventative medicine.

Industry Keynote Speakers

Dr. Pfeffer delivered an inspiring keynote encouraging attendees to consider the opportunity for true digital transformation.  

Dr. Pfeffer explored some of the true possibilities the industry can accomplish by leveraging AI. In his keynote presentation, Pfeffer shared examples of how AI can improve the patient experience and reduce cognitive burnout. Pfeffer says that by pairing AI and human staff, we can unlock incredible possibilities in healthcare.

Some challenges in healthcare can feel like a moonshot—almost impossible, but worth everything we’ve got to make the journey. NASA veteran Gregory Robinson faced such a challenge when he was asked to lead the program developing the James Webb Space Telescope when it was over budget and facing setbacks. He led his team in transforming the program into one of humankind’s greatest achievements. His experience is illuminating for any leader working to improve healthcare today.

Robinson used his experience to illustrate several important leadership lessons:

  • Transparency is vital—and effective communication goes beyond sharing data. 
  • It’s worth the effort and time to build trust.
  • Free your team to do their work. 

During this highly engaging afternoon keynote, devout pianist Felipe Gomez discussed the principles of becoming a virtuoso. Through his musical talent, Gomez illustrated how attendees can achieve excellence, create meaningful connections, and build effective cultures of innovation.

Additional Session Highlights from Day 1 of HAS 24 Include:

Healthcare delivery today faces many challenges, from strained resources to increasing patient demands. Organizations must navigate complex financial landscapes while striving to deliver top-notch clinical care with limited resources. Experts contend that the shift towards value-based care and the growing importance of patient engagement continue to underscore the need for innovative solutions in healthcare delivery.

Melissa Welch, MD, MPH, president of Welch Perspectives Healthcare Consulting, and Tim Zenger, MBA, vice president of market insights and research at Health Catalyst, discussed the current influential trends impacting healthcare systems, providers, and analysts during a breakout session on Wednesday afternoon. 

Following the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare organizations, including Providence St. Joseph, have experienced intensified financial pressures and scheduling challenges. Staff members at Providence St. Joseph recognized a surge in workload issues leading to heightened levels of burnout, particularly with scheduling difficulties. In response, the integration of AI and data analysis has emerged as essential tools to optimize scheduling processes for healthcare organizations. Martin Ray and Natalie Edgeworth of Providence shared how they adopted a proactive approach to assessing and comprehending the intricacies of workload and scheduling dilemmas to address these challenges. 

Payor denials cost healthcare systems millions of dollars every year, with the number of denials increasing. Kearstin Jorgenson, Operations Director for Physician Advisor Services, and Sathya Vijayakumar, Senior Clinical Operations Manager with Clinical Excellence, both of Intermountain Health (IH), described how they developed a peer-to-peer review process and a claims denial tracking tool that has reversed the trend at IH, resulting in more than $35 million in projected revenue.

Disparities and increased costs in healthcare can often be related to unwarranted variation in healthcare. Experts say that improved patient outcomes and reduced costs can be directly related to reducing unwarranted variation in healthcare. A panel of speakers discussed various solutions that can help address unwarranted care variation in healthcare.

  • Don’t skimp on investment!
  • Be open to learning along the way, have data-driven goals, but listen to team insights.
  • Bring all stakeholders to the table.

Salma Mansour, DNP MBA RN ACNP-BC, manager of hospital operations at Stanford Health Care, and Kenny Shum, PhD, principal data architect at Stanford Health Care, shared how their capacity management system increased preparedness across their system.

Mansour and Shum shared how historical data as a primary guide for real-time decision-making and collaborating with stakeholders across their health system helped their teams make their operations more efficient. Their team worked to predict how many patients to expect in the emergency department (ED) at different times each day.

Everyone is talking about AI healthcare, and the dizzying array of possibilities can be overwhelming. How can AI—here defined as augmented intelligence—be used in a meaningful way? Four leaders from leading healthcare organizations and healthcare technology companies shared the lessons they’ve learned in implementing augmented intelligence to provide guidance on getting beyond the hype to real results.

Integrating augmented and artificial intelligence (AI) in healthcare settings poses a unique set of challenges regarding governance: The rapid evolution of AI technology, concerns about accountability and transparency in healthcare decision-making, and a lack of uniform guidelines on the dependability and precision of AI. During this breakout session, Jason Y. Adams, MD, MS, director of data and analytics strategy at UC Davis Health, shared how the Sacramento region’s only academic health center established the Health Data Oversight Program in 2020 to provide comprehensive governance for AI initiatives, in response to mounting concerns. 

Upon a patient’s admission to the hospital, primary concerns often revolve around unknown questions such as “What is the anticipated duration of this hospital stay?” Patient length of stay can be categorized into three different categories: clinically unstable, optimal, and avoidable days. Identifying “avoidable days” as problematic prompted discussions at UnityPoint Health to devise a solution to alleviate healthcare workers’ labor burden. During this session, Ben Cleveland and Megan Zeisler, Data Scientists with UnityPoint Health, shared how they created a predictive model to forecast the duration of a patient’s stay, indicating when they are clinically prepared for discharge.

Boarding patients in the Emergency Department (ED) is a national crisis. Literature abounds with examples of patients who board in the ED having higher mortality rates, increased length of stay, and more adverse events. Compounding the issue is nursing labor shortages, which peaked during the pandemic, stressing an already fragile US healthcare system. Claire Corbett, MMS, MBA, FAB: Senior Director of Clinical Optimization and Variation Reduction at Novant Health, and Abby Roetger, MS, MBA, Senior Consultant at Novant Health, described Novant Health’s response to this national crisis through augmented intelligence (AI) and a system-wide standard approach to managing care while boarding.

As an informatics pharmacy manager, Kent Bridgeman at Allina Health oversees data analytics and reporting for Allina’s pharmacy practice. In his presentation, he discussed some of the impacts the organization has experienced and some challenging solutions for cost accounting in the pharmacy supply chain, which represented one of their biggest hurdles.

Collaboration, consistent definitions, a commitment to measurable improvements, and remembering who the data points represent are vital to addressing healthcare costs. Bryce Akagi, MSF, VP Finance Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium; Lisa Olenski, MBA Vice President of Continuous Improvement and Integrated Analytics at INTEGRIS Health; and John Hansmann, MSIE, LFHIMSS, DSHS Senior Vice President of Strategic Consulting Operations, Health Catalyst advised how to address the challenge of healthcare costs based on experiences at their respective organizations. 

Akagi encouraged the audience to approach conversations with the appropriate mindset and to humanize the metrics, while Olenski recommended attendees engage with the subject matter experts closest to the work to truly understand the data.

Ambulatory care is one of the fastest-growing segments of healthcare, and ambulatory care leaders are looking to improve efficiency and realize cost savings while simultaneously improving patient outcomes. Four veteran leaders from Chickasaw, Froedert & the Medical College of Wisconsin, ChristianaCare, and Health Catalyst shared their top learnings in using data to inform improvements in ambulatory care.

Orlando Health (OH) wanted to improve its transitional care management experience and reduce 30-day readmissions. They have several value-based care arrangements and financial commitments for cost and quality and determined that a data governance project could help by overcoming automation, communication, reporting, and documentation challenges that can cause care gaps that lead to readmission. Allison Schwarting, Assistant Manager, Value-Based Care Operations & Strategy Value-Based Care & Population Health, and Kaylee Adams, Assistant Manager, Value-Based Care Programs & Analytics, Value-Based Care & Population Health, both of OH, detailed their data governance plan process during this session.

The HAS 24 full agenda, with additional details about the week’s presentations, is available here. Follow highlights from HAS 24 learnings on X at @healthcatalyst.

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