NaviNet Admin on March 15, 2012

2012 NaviNet Expert Interview Series: Jennifer Dennard of Billian’s HealthData and Porter Research

Jennifer Dennard is the Social Marketing Director at Billian Inc.—parent company of Billian’s HealthData, Porter Research, and—as well as a syndicated blogger for Healthcare IT News and We caught up with Jennifer on how to educate and engage patients, the focus on coordinated care, and the powerful role social media can play in our healthcare system.

What do you see as the biggest developments in HIT in 2012?
Two areas immediately come to mind based on the work that Billian’s HealthData and Porter Research have been doing over the past six months. I expect that 2012 will bring a significant increase in the development of and utilization of business intelligence and analytics tools, and the formation of a corresponding number of accountable care organizations (ACOs) and/or coordinated care programs.

Porter Research completed two studies in late 2011 on providers’ perceptions of business intelligence and coordinated care. We released a white paper, Providers' Perceptions: Accountable Care Organizations, just before HIMSS. These areas need to develop hand in hand to successfully transition healthcare into a pay-for-performance business model. We found that business intelligence and ACOs are on all healthcare stakeholders’ radars, but many are taking a wait-and-see approach.

This will change in 2012. We expect more providers to move from the sidelines and enter the ACO field, especially now that the ACO deadlines have been relaxed. Providers also will adopt new care models more rapidly as vendors introduce more healthcare IT (HIT) products designed to help providers prepare for new delivery models (especially relating to the business side of things). Healthcare industry stakeholders know that silos will not work and will stifle healthcare transformation. Providers certainly realize this: Almost 75% of our respondents ranked business intelligence and analytics as “priority initiatives” at their organizations. In 2012, we will see this 75% begin to adopt enterprise business intelligence and analytics solutions as they prepare for new business models.

What key advances in patient information management do you anticipate in 2012?
I believe personal health records (PHRs) will be an innovation to watch this year. As a healthcare consumer, I would love a PHR that integrates thoroughly with my doctor and my insurers’ offices. I have two children, so I am often at the doctor’s office. It would be really nice to have one central repository for my family’s information that is interoperable with all my other providers and insurers. If I could find a personal health record that was designed for a family—including all of us—that would be great. If that is developed in 2012, HIT adoption will rise among the average consumer.

In Shahid Shah’s interview, he commented on the new world of social health records. I, too, believe that social will play an integral part in creating consumer interest in PHRs. The day Facebook announces a PHR will be the day we see patient information management take off.

I had a nice conversation during HIMSS12 with Dr. Geeta Nayyar, CMIO at AT&T, who agreed with me that social media is a great tool for patients, even suggesting that some day that providers may have Facebook pages that allow patients to make appointments or send a message to their doctor. She brought up the point that the success of these social tools in healthcare can only happen when providers and patients work hand in hand.

From there, one can imagine this growing to include social gaming. I really believe we can have a high level of patient engagement—just tie Farmville and personal health records together…and voilá! That’s easier said than done, of course, but I do believe it can happen.

For example, my two-year-old and six-year-old love to use my iPad. Sometimes it seems they can use it better than I can. They love the games and the educational components. If companies and payers can integrate healthcare tools with the iPad and gear them toward young people, engagement will become second nature. They will be proactive owners of their health, rather than reactive ones.

Where do you see the biggest potential for mobile care in 2012?
The greatest potential comes from combining providers’ use of mobile with the proliferation of consumer-facing mobile healthcare tools and apps. Every day, we learn about healthcare start-up accelerator programs. Many of the companies produce consumer-facing apps. As providers bring their tablets on medical rounds more and more, physicians and patients can “compare notes.” Together, they’ll be able to identify quantifiable outcomes from that data. They’ll be able to create plans to measure and act on the data to improve outcomes.

What factors will shape care collaboration in the coming year?
It’s all going to start with payers. For many consumers, care is dictated by whom the insurer approves them to see. Payers have an obligation to educate patients and collaborate with other payers and providers. Payers will act as enablers and facilitators of care collaboration.

What are your favorite HIT success stories of improving care and reducing costs?
Two anecdotes stand out for me. First, when the tornado hit Joplin, Missouri, almost a year ago, staff members from St. John’s Mercy Hospital were able to continue caring for patients during and after the tornado in part because of technology. They had just completed an electronic health record (EHR) implementation. A mobile hospital was set up that allowed nurses and physicians to work from hundreds of miles away to help stabilize patients during the event. That episode was definitely running through my mind during my home state of Georgia’s recent spate of tornadoes.

I am a believer that social media can bring communities together and create new relationships. There was a distressing instance when Matthew Browning’s (RN and CEO of, grandmother got sick in Georgia. His use of Twitter during his family member’s health emergency got people’s attention. It made people aware of the potential that social media platforms like Twitter have when it comes to real-time healthcare and healthcare education. Emory Healthcare was involved in Matthew’s case—they were tweeting back and forth. They published a really interesting case study on it.

What tools have been most effective for empowering patients to manage their health?
Education has been the biggest driver of patient engagement. It occurs in multiple places: hospitals advertising a new EHR on the radio, television ads for Kaiser Permanente on how patients can take control of their own health, the role social media has played in bringing folks together with chronic conditions or various stages of disease and treatment, or even the campaign tool kit that the Office of the National Coordinator for HIT (ONC) has created to educate healthcare consumers. It all comes down to education. If patients don’t understand healthcare, they won’t know how to value it or advocate for it. Ultimately, we all want empowered patients—people who want to take control of their health.

What are the broader ripple effects of the decisions to delay healthcare milestones like meaningful use stage 2?

At the end of the day, these changes have to be implemented if the industry wants to improve patient care today—not five years from now. Vendors and consultants have a role to play in preparing providers. The potential for vendors to generate goodwill by buckling down and helping their customers meet these deadlines is enormous. Let’s get past deadlines and move forward with improving patient care and driving innovation.

We are very grateful to Jennifer for sharing her thoughts with us. Do you agree that patient education is a key element in driving industry change? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Laura McCaughey
Senior Director, Corporate Marketing
NaviNet, Inc.

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