The Vibes at ViVE 2022

Our team took the pulse of interoperability during the first-ever ViVE conference.

When we first heard about the inaugural ViVE conference, we immediately began to debate internally: how do you pronounce ViVE? Was it vee-vay? Veev? Or simply...vive

We agreed to disagree, and decided that regardless of the pronunciation, this was a great opportunity to represent the forefront of healthcare interoperability.

Particle flew in representatives from our Sales, Customer Success, Engineering, and Product teams, and each person brought a different perspective to the many conversations we had with folks in Miami. We've combined notes to give you Particle’s #ViVE2022 takeaways, from the bustling exhibit floor to the slate of interesting speakers:

From the Booth

4 members of the Particle team at our conference booth
Particle’s team was ready to demo! L to R: AJ, Steve, Labib, and Mara. Elsewhere on the exhibit floor: Anu.

You couldn’t walk ten steps without hearing about interoperability. Particle made our home at the entrance to the InteropNow! Pavilion, an area which attracted buzz throughout the conference. 

Particle is the Best Solution for Targeted Use Cases

There are lots of startups creating solutions for improved virtual care, and all of them could benefit from incorporating Particle’s API. We also learned about rising stars in the chronic disease management space - like Perx Health, Upside Health, and Health Snap - who clearly sound like they need patient data!

ViVE was a VIBE

The conference itself was really well run, particularly for its first year (it’s from the same organizers as HLTH). The environment had a more casual feel, and people genuinely seemed happy and excited to be there. Again, Miami may have had something to do with it. But the energy for health tech was palpable. 

The Interoperability Landscape is Changing

It seems like there’s a new dividing line as it relates to healthcare interoperability. 

On one hand, we saw established companies that try and solve the problem with integrations as a solution. These tend to be IT vendors that charge an arm and a leg to do 1:1 integrations, or to whom interoperability means “we can help integrate your existing systems inside your tech stack”. Their fixes can be complicated, expensive, and don’t solve the problem of incoming/outgoing data.

On the other hand, we met plenty of “disrupters” who specifically viewed interoperability as a data problem. These folks are developing cool solutions that just depend on being able to get good clean data at scale. They represent our future and hopefully the future of healthcare overall.

In both cases, most people are taken aback by the simplicity of Particle’s solution, and have to reconcile that what we do is already possible!

From the Conference Floor

Particle CEO Troy Bannister sat down on stage for a “fireside chat” with StartUp Health’s Katya Hancock.
Particle CEO Troy Bannister sat down for a “fireside chat” with StartUp Health’s Katya Hancock.

More than one presenter declared, “power to the patient!” Health tech developers want to empower consumers to take ownership of their care.

The FHIR Format Is Fixing Data Fragmentation

We were glad to hear the widespread belief that FHIR is here to stay, at least for now. It’s clear there will be iterations on FHIR in the future, but it’s not a passing fad.

Notably, there wasn’t much resistance to FHIR. Everyone we heard from wanted to speak the same language, and is seemingly willing to work on getting there. There’s excitement around the access that consumer apps can provide using FHIR. Attendees were animated by the immediacy of delivery, potential for individual access, and the highly-specified targeted care that FHIR provides.

However, there is a sense of disappointment with how slow FHIR adoption has been. It will become widely used, but the world is still on HL7 V2. Everyone seems to be waiting for a watershed moment as the policy framework catches up. EHRs need a customer-facing FHIR API by the end of 2022, and maybe that will drive the change.

Philosophical Tensions Around Data Access

While the interoperability community has shared values regarding the safe and free movement of patient data to responsible parties, there are meaningful disagreements in how to achieve this.

One camp believes the only way through is by centering patient management. and that we must make it possible for an individual to request and maintain a digital copy of all their records. The people who’ve pitched their tents in this camp tend to also be the companies building products to help patients do this. A different group believes that the path is through trusted entity mediated network exchange.

As an infrastructure provider, Particle is agnostic to which philosophy wins out. Either path presents us with the opportunity to offer simple APIs that facilitate the movement of patient data. 

QHINs Searching For A Purpose

With the new TEFCA framework introducing the idea of a QHIN, some groups are racing to grab QHIN status and certification. While parts of TEFCA meaningfully advance the state of interoperability, the definition of a QHIN encompasses much of the work that networks like CommonWell and participants like Particle already do.

Attendees pushed presenters to describe the value of becoming a QHIN, but it was hard to tell what that value is yet. Answers ranged from getting a “stamp of approval”, to clearance for marketing additional products, to getting free info from other QHINs. But how someone would benefit from receiving a label for existing functionality remains to be seen. 

Transparency and Access Will Improve Consumer Experiences

There’s momentum around individual access (IA), or the ability of consumers to easily acquire their health records.  Many organizations are working on different aspects of it, and folks repeatedly brought up how important it is to legislate for individual access. Even so, it’s proving difficult to sort out. 

Some challenges around IA involve getting consumers more involved with their care without creating tension with doctors, an increasingly common issue. Other discussions revolved around master patient identifiers - no one has been able to solve this problem and it’s heavy on everyone’s mind. What identifiers do we feel are safe for patients to provide without making it incredibly annoying for consumers to unlock their information?

Some attendees said they have too much data to use! What many organizations have collected is too fragmented and not available in consumer-friendly formats. 

Ultimately, if we’re going to enable individual access, the patient experience has to be good. For example, everyone agrees that CCDs are not the way forward. We can’t just dump large files onto patients without context - which gives FHIR another place to shine.

Demand for Use Cases Beyond Treatment

The first decade of interoperability was about getting a barebones level of patient data exchange between medical providers to support the treatment of those patients.

Now that the networks and endpoints and frameworks for exchanging data exist, their use is limited to providers. Meanwhile, nearly every participant in the U.S. medical industry wants that data to improve their workflows. 

Whether it be for helping patients find better insurance, employers supporting team wellbeing,  or researchers tracking the health of populations, expanding the availability of patient data beyond the treatment use case would meaningfully improve the quality of healthcare delivery in the US across every domain. There’s lots of AI and machine learning innovations being applied make unstructured data actionable.

All eyes are on the nationwide networks and their largest participants to see when the gates to non-treatment use cases will open. 

Several folks called on the federal government to elevate payment and operations use cases. Holding firm with existing deadlines would force participants to act, while pushing deadlines would slow adoption even more.

Troy Bannister sitting with microphone
At "Providing Consumers More Data With Less Friction: The CARIN Alliance", Troy Bannister was joined by b.well Connected Health founder Kristen Valdes.

Finally, A Swag Report

We left New York City ready to give away 2 boxes of these pro-interoperability KN95 masks. We returned with 1 box. Maybe we’ll have these left over for ViVE 2023 in Nashville! (But here’s hoping we won’t need them next year.) ⚛️

custom mask left side
custom mask right side