While meeting with a lot of people at HIMSS I started to think about what would be the next “must have” IT system that a healthcare organization would look at purchasing. When you look back at the history of IT purchases in healthcare, the Practice Management System (PMS or PM depending on your preference) was one of the first systems that most practices purchased. It was an easy buy for most people. They saw a lot of value to digitize the billing side of their practice. Adoption of practice management systems was widespread. Everyone was and is using one.
After the practice management system came the Electronic Health Record (EHR, but many could argue that EMR came before EHR, but that’s semantics in my books). Over the 10 years that I’ve been blogging about EHR software, we’ve seen the evolution of people asking if they should buy an EHR software to everyone realizing that they needed to go electronic but were trying to figure out which solution was best to $36 billion of government money which basically had the vast majority of doctors choose to hop on board EHR. While we don’t have 100% EHR adoption, we’re getting there. The market for EHR purchases is quite mature now.
With that as background, I’ve been thinking about what system or platform would be purchased next by a practice. I asked a number of people at HIMSS about this. Dr. Tom Giannulli from Kareo suggested that Care Plan Engagement could be an interesting next step. With the coming ACOs and value based reimbursement, you can see where Dr. Tom is coming from in his thinking. Plus, his term mixes the meaningful use term of patient engagement with the care plan approach that’s likely going to be required in future business models.
When I sat down with Carl Ferguson from CTG, he called the next product a Care Management System. When I heard it, I thought that this term could have staying power. The practice management system manages the practice (ie. billing). The electronic health record stores the records electronically. The Care Management System is going to be centered on the patient and the care that a patient receives.
What do you think of the term: Care Management System? There were probably a hundred products at HIMSS that have started to build a product like this. Although, I think a care management system would probably have to be a combination of a number of products out on the market today.
Regardless of what we call it, I think what will set apart the next big healthcare IT product offering is that it will be centered around the patient. A care management system by its very nature would have to be interoperable since the care is being given across multiple organizations. A care plan would make since because the patient’s at the center of the care management system and everyone could be involved in creating the care plan and ensuring that the care plan is being followed. At first take, I really like this terminology and I hope it gains some traction.
One challenge with the term Care Management System is that the abbreviation is CMS. That abbreviation is already quite popular with the government organization (CMS) and also the popular Content Management System (CMS). Although, if that’s the biggest problem with the term, then I feel pretty good about it. Although, this does make me wonder if we’ll go back to the age old integrated PM/EHR debate again when it comes to an integrated EHR/CMS. Will EHR vendors see this opportunity and offer a Care Management System module for their EHR? Some probably think they already are doing that.