HIT Connect Summit 2023: Insights from North Highland

The State Health Information Technology (HIT) Connect Summit is a conference where public and private sector thought leaders share ideas, lessons learned, and their implementation strategies for building robust State Health IT Systems. 

In March, North Highland had the pleasure of attending the 2023 HIT Connect Summit. We had 47 participating sponsors, 1,031 registrants, and 868 industry, state, and federal leaders in Health IT. As the industry is recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, the focus on modular MMIS implementations, data interoperability, and delivering health equity persists. In this newsroom article, North Highland experts share the insights gathered at this year’s event and discuss key takeaways and trends you’ll want to know. 

MES Transformation  

MES modernizations are complex, requiring continuous decision-making, strong governance, and the ability to pivot to meet new state and federal requirements. It’s crucial to consider factors that could potentially affect the transformation. This includes the agile procurement process, managing multiple vendor environments, assessing legacy system ability to support migration efforts, and organizational change management, including redefining the service delivery model, establishing governance, business-as-usual (BAU) operations management and readiness, and adequate bandwidth to support ongoing regulatory changes. North Highland recommends that State agencies remain flexible, re-evaluate the roadmap frequently, and align stakeholders and MES component vendors around a strong future-focused healthcare technology foundation Strategic Plan. 

Embracing Data  

The pandemic has added strain to the already overworked healthcare ecosystem. It required States to include additional data sharing and reporting to support the healthcare providers decipher information and gain actionable insights. Now more than ever, States and vendors realize the need to include data strategies and governance as core items to help improve health equity and outcomes. Many states are at various levels of data maturity – focusing on data governance, data quality, and data interoperability standards to support efficient data sharing. We recommend that States prioritize their data strategy initiatives to be included in the MES transformation strategy and roadmap. 

Organizational Agility 

While the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing PHE Unwinding efforts have diverted much of the state’s capacity away from focusing on its modernization journey, it is more apparent than ever that this could be the future norm. Embedding organizational agility into a State’s business and delivery model is a sure way to mitigate the risk. This requires States to reassess their current business and delivery models to embrace an organizational model that supports agile practices. 

Health Equity and Addressing Social Determinants of Health (SDoH) 

Socioeconomic factors, health behaviors, nutrition, and the physical environment, commonly referred to as SDoH, influence health outcomes. Using SDoH data as levers to close the health equity gap is a journey on its own. States are beginning to use SDoH data and analytics to gain valuable insights, determine future health requirements, and make predictions to help inform policies and intervention strategies to focus on improving health outcomes. We recommend that States identify a dedicated workstream for SDoH initiatives and embed the overall modernization efforts. 

Public Health Emergency (PHE) Unwinding and Beyond  

PHE Unwinding includes changes to programs and emergency flexibilities established to meet the coverage needs during COVID-19. This requires replanning and scaling with the goal of maintaining continuity of coverage for more than 90 million Medicaid recipients. States should consider various strategies to address these challenges, including the use of agile methods, automation, process improvements, accurate reporting and dashboards, and a skilled supplemental eligibility workforce. 

CMS stressed the importance of the accuracy of Transformed Medicaid Statistical Information System (T-MSIS) data and staying in compliance with Medicaid regulations to avoid risking the federal match. States have 14 months after the PHE unwinding is complete to ensure the T-MSIS meets data quality and accuracy requirements. In addition, States have 24 months after the PHE unwinding is complete to ensure compliance with the Medicaid regulatory requirements. We recommend States identify compliance and T-MSIS gaps and embed them in the roadmap.