Experts Unpack the True Meaning Behind 3 Healthcare Buzzwords

The healthcare industry has a language of its own. It consists of clinical jargon, an endless list of acronyms, and buzzwords that are too vaguely defined to hold much meaning.

A panel of healthcare data experts broke down some of healthcare’s most common buzzwords on Sunday at HLTH 2022 in Las Vegas. While the panelists agreed that many industry professionals still struggle to grasp the true denotations of words and phrases like “interoperability” and “reimagining healthcare,” the experts said these terms can be quite meaningful once they’re unpacked.

Interoperability

Troy Bannister, CEO of healthcare API platform Particle Health, joked that interoperability “literally means nothing, because no one can agree on what it means.” To him, the term refers to “the right data at the right place at the right time.”

Interoperability is a hard thing to achieve because it requires various healthcare stakeholders to be on the same page and align their incentives, Bannister pointed out. He noted that there’s been an “enormous amount of regulatory push” over the last few years to address this problem.

The federal government introduced two key rules last year that will play a large part in advancing interoperability, according to Bannister. The first is Section 4004 of the 21st Century Cures Act, which allows HHS to step in and stop information blocking practices that obstruct legally viable requests for healthcare data. The second is the Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement, a rule that will begin going into effect in early 2023. It aims to establish a universal floor for interoperability across the U.S.

“These two rules in combination are going to create a very different playing field for moving information around from different stakeholders,” Bannister said.

Reimagining healthcare

Komodo Health CEO Arif Nathoo said he likes the phrase “reimagining healthcare” because it “allows all of us to make it sound like our jobs are really important and motivate people to actually do something that we all think is good for society.”

To Nathoo, the phrase refers to the idea that providers and other healthcare companies are identifying the patterns that lead to poor health outcomes, and they’re working to address these patterns with the right technology.

Aashima Gupta, Google’s global director of healthcare solutions, agreed. She said the phrase refers to healthcare companies’ efforts to leverage their knowledge and data in a way that makes Americans’ healthcare experiences more “accessible, affordable and enjoyable.”

Data science

Data science refers to the derivation of insights from data, according to Najat Khan, Janssen’s chief data science officer. 

“Data itself is not useful unless you derive insights that help you make decisions to improve healthcare or a patient’s life” she said.

When healthcare stakeholders talk about data science, they are referring to their efforts to mine trends from data so that they can enable better outcomes, according to Khan. This can take many forms, from examining patient data to find out what causes Alzheimer’s disease to analyzing hospital admissions data to determine how preventable emergency department visits can be avoided.

Photo: Bulat Silvia, Getty Images

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