2019 has not been a boring year for KLAS. A lot of key things happened, one being that we are starting to measure emerging technology. KLAS has measured the big, well-established pieces of healthcare technology since we started. Having a way to measure new products that are out there trying to get attention from CEOs and CIOs presents a new, exciting opportunity for us.
Another moment that comes to mind is discovering that the correlation between physician burnout and EHR use is not as strong as we had assumed. It probably would have been good for KLAS if there were a more direct connection between technology and burnout, but that is not the story the Arch Collaborative data is telling us. It has been fascinating to uncover what is really causing more burnout and to discover what the EHR’s role actually is.
The Payer/Provider Summit was especially interesting because our summits normally revolve around new problems like patient engagement or population health. The friction between payers and providers is not a new challenge. Bits and pieces have been tackled over time, but it feels like there is enough energy in the market for a resurgence of focus in this arena. I know that a number of payers and providers were skeptical as they walked into the event itself, but they were still hopeful that KLAS could drive something different. Afterward, a few of those payers emailed us to say that they had approached their boards about tackling authorizations and denials with providers — something they had no intention of doing before the summit.
Going into 2020
In 2020, we will be doubling down on our efforts from 2019. We want to take the momentum from the Payer/Provider Summit and turn it into a real effort to shine a light on who is making a difference. Who has a plan that can and has been implemented that can potentially scale to more people and that creates a belief that in turn creates more energy? We want to have more providers and payers be part of this effort with more energy being created.
We will also be doing many more emerging-technology reports to get more transparency into that space. Our goal is to give providers a sense of what is happening with some of these really cool, new technologies. We want to be able to share insights about vendors that are (or aren’t) doing well. Sometimes it is daunting knowing that there are thousands of these vendors, but it is better to have data on the first 50 we come across to get the ball rolling instead of being intimidated and deciding to not tackle the research at all.
Emerging Markets KLAS is Watching
This year, KLAS did our first study in the AI space, and I was expecting that market to be a little more over-hyped. But in actuality, we found that some sites were making real progress with AI and something called robotic process automation (RPA), which KLAS includes within the broader definitive scope of machine learning in our 2019 AI report. RPA essentially looks at processes in billing and automates some of the repetitive pieces of the workflow to free up time for people to work on other things. We found some huge benefits with RPA that tie to AI. We’re going to be doing a series of drill downs on the vendors in those spaces that will culminate in a whole report. In addition, our first AI report sets a pretty clear definition of what we consider AI. One goal in 2020 will be to refine this definition.
Patient engagement is another important market we’re keeping an eye on. We just finished some research and concluded that the biggest issue in patient engagement is, in fact, the patient — an irony that is not lost on me. Figuring out how to work with patients and see things through their lens is going to be critical, and we as an industry are really bad at that. KLAS’ efforts on that front include continuing to push vendors to think like a patient. We need to start to measure platforms that can do more than just one specific thing and that give providers a holistic patient engagement strategy. We already have several vendors that are measured as platform vendors, but many players in the patient engagement world are emerging vendors with new tools and apps. My sense is that we will probably dig into five different areas with these emerging players of patient engagement in 2020.
Precision medicine is another market that is a little further out than 2020, but it is still something KLAS is aware of and focusing on for the next year. It is really easy to see the benefits of your provider having your genome so that he or she can know that specific drug treatments do or do not work for people similar to you. For example, you could possibly avoid three months of chemotherapy because your provider already knows that it will not work for you. Right now, most health systems do not work with precision medicine because it is not clear how it is paid for and because the technology needed to support it is not yet built out very well. I have seen some pretty clunky systems that are better than nothing but still not very user friendly. However, KLAS is going to keep pushing forward in this market. We will be measuring differences in precision medicine vendors for the first time in 2020.