The healthcare industry has seen its fair share of advances and reform in the last decade. Health information exchanges (HIEs) have taken center stage. Wearable technology is generating patient-created data at alarming rates, medical institutions have begun searching for health informatics leaders to help them reach the next level of clinical transformation and providers are feeling even more pressure to document with electronic health records (EHRs).
What advances and reforms can we expect to see in 2015? Here are 10 healthcare technology trends to watch:
Interoperability and Policy
Industry experts are proposing data-sharing networks with an application program interface (API) approach that will allow data to be pulled discretely from data sources that are all linked. New apps and modules will allow patients to download information anywhere in the world. This new ecosystem can leverage data in a much more robust way and tie it all together at the same time.
Over the past year, cybercriminals have been targeting healthcare organizations at an alarming rate. Without stricter security measures, attacks figure to increase as hackers can make a fortune selling medical records on the black market. Unlike recent years where breaches were a result of lost or stolen USB drives, hackers now have access to a variety of access points. Regardless of size, security professionals are urging all healthcare facilities to recognize the threat and guard against additional attacks.
Expect a push for the development of national standards through health concepts called foundational capabilities. These aim to identify data points for public health so local leaders can make informed decisions. Local health authorities will also start to incorporate big data and electronic health records as well as improve bio-surveillance.
We will soon see a learning health system that will share data in an effort to learn more about diseases and treatments. Information specialists will continue to harness the vast amounts of data stored within healthcare systems to enable more rapid and cost-effective clinical research. As these small-scale networks are being put into place, large organizations will continue to become mature learning systems.
Google’s telehealth pilot program, which is a “direct-to-consumer” service, connects Internet searchers with doctors from one of the participating healthcare organizations. This latest move by Google is part of a larger trend that aims to bring telehealth capabilities directly to patients. Look for new startups to enter the market as investors sink more money into this technology and service.
Patient-generated health data (PGHD) is an emerging concept that continues to evolve due to an increase in chronic diseases and the high costs of managing them. As consumers and healthcare providers look toward a technology solution, more tools in the form of wearables and apps will hit the market. In fact, according to analysts, the wearables market is expected to grow to more than $50 billion over the next three to five years.
Transitions of Care
Federal directives are encouraging healthcare providers to follow patients along the care continuum, but experts warn it will take more than just complying with regulations to keep patients out of the hospital. It’s expected there will be a steady evolution as the industry inches toward meaningful use Stage 3, and providers should be encouraged to be more actionable with information that is transferred from one point to the next. Also, proof of action ability will be required, such as alerts and notifications that verify a provider looked at what another provider sent.
Emerging healthcare systems require a new generation of clinical informatics whose job is to organize and manage an overwhelming amount of data and help their organizations undergo true clinical transformation. IT professionals should continue to be in high demand as more and more providers must find ways to leverage IT and analytics for population health and satisfy demands for value-based care delivery.
As grant money begins to disappear, many HIEs may be finding it difficult to stay afloat because they were created with the right intent but often without a business focus on long-term sustainability. Statewide and regional HIE survival needs broad stakeholder support, policy directives at the government level and strategy. Two strategies to watch for are providing stakeholders with services they will pay for and facilitating data sharing among organizations.
Many organizations are now starting to refine mobile usage thanks to the increasing maturity of devices and software. As more physicians realize mobile device usage can help them diagnose and coordinate care, mobile solutions targeting the healthcare industry will emerge and continue to eliminate communication inefficiencies.