New beginning, new direction for Health Data Management

In 1911, John Franklin Baker took his 46-ounce bat and made baseball history. He launched 11 home runs and hit separate round-trippers to win two games in that year’s World Series. For those heroics, he picked up the nickname of Home Run Baker. 

Some 110 years later, I doubt Mr. Baker would recognize the game for which he entered the Hall of Fame. It’s an analytical paradise of spin rates, launch angles, situational statistics and data that dictates where defenders are positioned and which pitches get tossed when. And Baker’s lifetime record of 96 homers gets eclipsed every week of the season by all players in Major League Baseball. 

Baseball has evolved and changed, from hitting‘em where they ain’t, to throwing spitballs, to hitting Ruthian home runs, to tossing barely hittable screwballs, to stealing bases, from bunting and “small ball” to swinging for the fences. While the aim of the game has always remained the same, the strategies have never remained static for long. 

This, too, is the case in healthcare. Like baseball, the goal is simple – getting patients well and sending them home; but the strategies for achieving it are evolving, and fast. Healthcare is in transition from a fee-for-service approach to value-based reimbursement. The difference in incentives between the two systems is enormous. 

Can the nation’s healthcare organizations adapt quickly? Two years ago, I would have guessed no. Then, COVID-19 put providers through an immense stress test that, unfortunately, is still underway. Providers adapted on the fly, changing traditional in-person delivery to virtual visits or safely managed encounters. Information technology enabled the rapid shift. But even as healthcare organizations deal with the ongoing challenges and the aftereffects of the pandemic, changes in healthcare delivery wait in the wings or must be managed right now. It’s new territory, to be sure, but healthcare is facing inevitable change, because of myriad forces. 

It’s this gap that the new Health Data Management seeks to fill. This brand had its beginning back in the 1990s. I joined as managing editor soon after its launch, and it has a long heritage of objective, professional reporting on industry players and trends. HDM provided consistent coverage of healthcare IT up until February 2020, when it was shuttered as part of a corporate reorganization. 

Now, we are re-emerging, building on our journalistic heritage, but also significantly changing our vision to intersect with the needs of the healthcare industry, which needs support, education, information sharing and a central source of truth to manage multiple changes, including the push to make progress on achieving the Quadruple Aim within healthcare. 

We are joined in this vision by Health Sciences South Carolina, a health collaborative in that state which is seeking to transform health and care delivery through research and knowledge sharing. HSSC has invested in HDM’s rebirth as part of its vision to improve care and delivery on a wider scale. 

In fact, HDM is coming back as a non-profit, feeling the call to provide education and a source of useful, verifiable, actionable and forward-looking information. Toward that end, we are forming collaborative partnerships with industry organizations that are playing crucial roles in healthcare’s future. These organizations often do important work that undergird the change initiatives critical to healthcare’s future, but have not received sufficient recognition. We endeavor to work together with these organizations to be your source for anticipatory knowledge, grounded in evidence-based content that equips healthcare executives to better guide the industry’s new directions. 

We will announce a variety of partnerships during the next several months, but one of our first involves KLAS Research, which provides impartial insights into information technology and healthcare industry trends. This relationship with KLAS and its highly regarded data is a strategic partnership that enhances and emphasizes our educational mission and evidence-based purpose.  

Our initial collaboration with KLAS will be a four-week series of web events that looks at how healthcare organizations are adapting strategies to improve patient engagement, access to information and involvement in care. More information will be forthcoming on this free, in-depth educational experience. 

Finally, what energizes us about HDM’s new focus is where we are looking. A frustration about the past few years for me was our brand’s mission of covering news in the healthcare IT industry. While important, it was akin to trying to drive a car by constantly looking in the rearview mirror. While it’s nice to glance that mirror for context and to know where you’ve been, it’s not entirely helpful in getting you where you need to go. 

If I can be allowed one more sports analogy, we are adapting the strategy of Wayne Gretzky, a prolific goal-scorer with a 20-year career in the National Hockey League. When speaking of his recipe for success, Gretzky states that “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.” 

It’s crucial for healthcare entities to have anticipatory knowledge to face the challenges ahead. We seek to be forward-looking in the same way, and collaborate with similar forward-looking partners. We hope you will join us as like-minded, forward-looking sojourners on an inevitable journey.