It’s January and that means it is time to brush the dust off of my crystal ball and make some predictions about health IT for the upcoming year. This year, I am adding categories of predictions based on patterns observed over the years. So, without further ado, here are my predictions by category for 2019.
What previously promising technology will fulfill its potential in 2019?
This category is for health IT efforts that have been brewing for a while but have yet to consistently deliver measurable value (ROI or VOI) through practical use cases.
Dave’s Pick(s): Artificial intelligence (AI) and robotic process automation (RPA). Practical application of predictive analytics and advanced decision support will start to show consistent positive impact on health and financial outcomes in the real world. Keep a close eye on RPA for common business processes like insurance preauthorization and predictive analytics for specific clinical situations like drug therapy selection and opioid abuse potential.
What technology, that has been riding high on the hype cycle, will be viewed more realistically in 2019?
Most health IT goes through a predicable hype cycle. This category is for health IT activities that are the “next big thing” and currently riding a wave of unrealistic expectations that will subside in 2019 as reality asserts itself.
Dave’s Pick(s): The excitement around new health IT players like Apple and Amazon will fade in late 2019. We need fresh ideas, but in the short-term, expect disappointments and missteps. Health IT (and healthcare in general) is much harder than it looks and the winners in the long-run will master the mash-up of the best of old and new. Health IT history is littered with companies like these that underestimate this challenge.
What major health IT trends will accelerate in 2019?
Trends come in all sizes. This category is devoted to calling out the biggest trends that may take years to play out but will gather momentum in 2019.
Dave’s Pick(s): The pendulum will continue to swing away from monolithic electronic health records (EHRs) and back towards best-of-breed applications as part of the emerging next-generation health IT ecosystem. Expect increasing migration to API-based integration solutions like FHIR that will provide an ever-greater share of the interoperability infrastructure needed for this new approach. The move back towards best-of-breed will benefit from the growing backlash of end-users fed up with awkward workflows and the lack of usability with the current generation of EHRs. Momentum will build as more providers speak up and more studies demonstrate impact on safety, workforce productivity and burnout.
What “under the radar” health IT issues will come to the forefront in 2019?
This category is all about surprises and focuses on opportunities or issues that will burst onto the scene in 2019.
Dave’s Pick(s): The dawn of CRM for healthcare. Awareness of how modern marketing techniques and IT can be harnessed to benefit healthcare is rising and companies like Salesforce are making major moves into healthcare. Expect to see initial use cases related to patient or provider engagement that justify the investment and eventually lead to clinical uses.
Dave’s Bonus pick: Behavioral health IT rises. The opioid abuse crisis and rising suicide rates coupled with the funding parity and requirements of the 21st Century Cures Act will stimulate interest and investment in behavioral health IT.
Looking back at my seven predictions from 2018, I’d argue I was mostly right on three, partially right on one and totally blew the rest. This is both humbling and a reminder that predicting the future requires a bit of hutzpah and some recklessness! It’s also an essential ingredient in imagining a better future and making it come to pass. Do you have predictions of your own or thoughts on mine? Drop me a note. I’d love to hear them!
Dave Levin, MD is the Chief Medical Officer for Sansoro Health where he focuses on bringing true interoperability to health care. Dave is a nationally recognized speaker, author and the former CMIO for the Cleveland Clinic. He has served in a variety of leadership and advisory roles for health IT companies, health systems and investors. You can follow him @DaveLevinMD or email Dave.Levin@SansoroHealth.com