As healthcare organizations embrace technology advancements that can improve the delivery of patient care (and the multitude of administrative tasks that support it), healthcare IT is changing rapidly. Here’s a look at the biggest trends in healthcare IT that are shaping the future of the healthcare industry.
1. Healthcare IT’s Role in Patient Engagement and Experience Grows
Patients are taking a more active role in their healthcare. They’re looking for a seamless process for finding a provider, scheduling appointments, paying their bills, locating relevant health information, and not just having access to review, but also to make sense of their results from lab work and other tests. In response to the consumerization of healthcare, healthcare organizations are investing in new care delivery models that enable them to meet patients where they are – and that’s at an increasing number of patient touchpoints, from patient portals and medical apps to remote patient monitoring and more. Today’s patients want more control over their data as well as the ability to easily share their data when and with other providers or entities of their choosing.
2. Increased Focus on ROI and Measurable Outcomes of Digitization
Increasing downward pressure on budgets and margins means that healthcare organizations are looking for faster ROI in terms of both clinical and financial outcomes. In response, there’s a growing demand for packaged solutions with embedded technology that can offer those benefits. The C-suite is also experiencing some shifts as newer roles are emerging that reflect an increased focus on digitization. The Chief Nursing Informatics Officer (CNIO), for example, leads the charge in developing and implementing health IT initiatives that support nursing and clinical applications.
3. Healthcare Organizations Strive for Interoperability
The push to achieve interoperability is going strong and will continue for the foreseeable future. The need for seamless, real-time (or at least rapid) sharing of digital patient information across platforms and systems has never been more clear. Interoperability brings health data together to create a complete patient picture, fostering efficient care delivery and better clinical decision support to improve care at the individual level and boosting momentum toward value-based care.
4. EHR Optimization on the Horizon
EHR needs to be more adaptive, interactive, and responsive to clinicians’ needs. Leveraging AI advances can help to automate tedious clerical work for clinicians such as documentation, billing, and other repetitive tasks related to clinical care. Optimizing EHR through these and other improvements – such as eliminating messy, unstructured data – promises improved usability, resulting in a better user experience in effort to mitigate EHR burnout.
5. Demand for Virtual Care on the Rise
There’s an ongoing effort to deliver care in the most-effective and least-expensive setting, leading to an increase in delivery models such as telehealth, home-based care, and remote patient monitoring. Several hurdles hinder more widespread adoption, such as regulatory concerns, issues with reimbursement, and questions surrounding the clinical workflow. Still, virtual care continues to grow, with connected devices, urgent care and retail clinics, and on-demand care becoming increasingly commonplace. As solutions emerge to common adoption hurdles, growth in virtual care is expected to continue in the coming years.
6. Cloud Migration Takes Hold in Healthcare
Information technology is expensive, and rising costs make it challenging for hospitals to hire and maintain the IT staff needed to maintain on-premise systems. As a result, even smaller healthcare organizations are looking to the cloud to achieve cost savings. It’s not solely a cost issue, though; the cloud offers several benefits that are particularly attractive to healthcare organizations, including better reliability, accessibility, and security. Above all, a cloud-first model is essential for the personalized healthcare journey patients demand today.
7. Machine Learning and AI Adoption on the Rise
AI, sophisticated analytics, and an increased volume of patient care data support the use of clinical decision support. Innovations in robotic process automation, manual task automation, and deep learning are poised to make a big impact in healthcare. Data liquidity and third-party app integration with EHRs makes it possible to refine clinical evidence gleaned from clinical data captured throughout the course of healthcare delivery, enabling clinicians to access more relevant data, faster, ultimately fostering better decision-making and care delivery. For example, better, more accessible data can make it possible to identify the patients most at-risk of illness following a hospital stay. Clinicians can access the latest evidence and integrate that data with a patient’s unique history to make more informed, data-driven decisions for better health outcomes. Overall, the focus of machine learning and AI adoption in healthcare is leveraging existing data to improve clinical and operational processes, and clinical outcomes are already being improved through the use of innovations such as AI-assisted robotic surgery.
8. Healthcare Cybersecurity Remains a Prominent Concern
The healthcare industry faces an astonishing 32,000 intrusion attacks per organization, per day, compared to about 14,300 per organization in other industries. Compounding the issue is the fact that healthcare lags behind other industries when it comes to cybersecurity standards. Healthcare organizations are often targeted because healthcare data is more valuable to criminals than other data like credit card information. In fact, stolen health credentials are worth a whopping 10 to 20 times more than credit card information on the black market. Because cybercriminals use increasingly sophisticated attack measures, it’s difficult for the industry to keep up. While blockchain may eventually play a role in more secure healthcare transactions, its potential for viable use in the healthcare industry is still in the early stages of exploration. Healthcare organizations in the coming years will need to adopt sophisticated security solutions in order to combat threats and adequately protect sensitive patient information.
Given the fast pace of technology advancement and the healthcare industry’s increasing focus on leveraging IT to improve the efficiency of healthcare delivery, it’s likely that new trends will emerge on the horizon. In 2019 and beyond, these eight trends are poised to reshape the healthcare industry by arming clinicians with robust, data-driven tools, fostering better quality care, and improving access for patients.