Collaboration: The Clear Catalyst for Health IT Improvements in 2023

Working Better, Together, Toward a Brighter Future for the Healthcare…

February 06, 2023

Working Better, Together, Toward a Brighter Future for the Healthcare Ecosystem

The start of a new year brings opportunity for new experiences, a clean slate to pursue interests. Many government, industry, and academia participants chose to ring in 2023 by studying a topic that will affect all individuals and organizations, regardless of backgrounds: the future of the health IT landscape.

At AFCEA Bethesda’s 15th Annual Health IT Summit, government leaders spoke on topics such as customer experience (CX); digital transformation; and health equity. Speakers shared recent advancements and opportunities in the healthcare field.

From all the varied health IT challenges discussed and solutions shared over two days, one sentiment was paramount: we as a community must collaborate, sharing insights and finding common ground with one another in order to achieve the greatest successes.

Though there are significant challenges to overcome, the health IT community has never been more resilient and ready to conquer them.


Removing the Friction to a More Collaborative Culture

Over the past three years of the pandemic, a new work model emerged. With video meetings effectively replacing a knock on the CEO’s door, connecting with key industry leaders has become easier, both inside agencies and in non-government organizations.

Removing barriers that were seemingly ingrained in the workplace –though easier said than done — has afforded the healthcare industry a plethora of benefits (more efficient systems and increased flexibility, to name a few).

But there is still room for improvement in cross-collaboration efforts. Rajiv Uppal, CIO of Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), shared his desire for vendors to “truly became our partners” in solving agencies’ IT problems.


Successful Contingency Plans Flourish with Cross-Agency Collaboration

In the opening keynote, Nikki Bratcher-Bowman, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response and COO of the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response (ASPR) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), spoke on the mindset that emerged during Covid and unlocked collaboration in a way never before seen. The ability to pivot during the pandemic while preserving flexibility in the health IT environment created optimal results for organizations.

She noted that trust was (and still can be) built in the health IT field through ample and clear communication and by creating programs that meet the needs of users nationwide. Collaboration during the pandemic helped to establish plans to prepare for future contingencies, such as potential supply chain disruptions.

Ms. Bratcher-Bowman described a success story of collaboration involving multiple government agencies sharing COVID-related data to build HHS Protect, a national public data hub. The project succeeded in record time, providing support for citizens in need and creating a blueprint for future threats.

Our role in the reimagining of work processes is fundamental, something we cannot take lightly. We must continue to adapt to emerging changes and challenges in the healthcare sector. Adopting a “people-centered” approach will be key to mission fulfillment and optimizing healthcare services moving forward.


Shifting Plain Data into Strategic Assets

While there is no magic wand to gather all relevant data needed by organizations, practitioners nonetheless desire the data. A multifaceted response is needed by organizations to capture and analyze relevant data sets in order to mine valuable insights that will inform action items.

Data transparency will be part of the solution. The summit’s panel covering data modernization explored the collective obligation the community has to become stewards of public data, remaining transparent and collaborative.

Data is simply a window into what is happening around us; it alone won’t provide all the answers. Even so, collaboration and discussions prompted by data lead to strategic insights. From those insights come action and decisions, leading organizations closer to mission achievement and customer satisfaction.


Marching Diligently Toward the Ever- Shifting “Finish Line” Together

Innovation and advancements are undeniably underway in the health IT sector, yet challenges remain. Reducing barriers to success, when possible, will lead to improved outcomes. We must evangelize data transparency in the healthcare community to better serve customers. Lean on (and learn from) past successes. Don’t reinvent the wheel.

Collaboration — internally and externally — with industry, government, and academia, will catalyze change in the health IT ecosystem in 2023. The health IT community is eager to get to work.


Thought Leadership