Health IT’s Future: 9 Issues To Watch
Future breakthroughs in health IT are projected to skyrocket as healthcare providers implement information technology to make competitive advancements, better patient care, and reduce expenses. Here are 9 areas where health IT will experience radical progress in the next few years.
- Mobile health apps: Apps will simplify how consumers and clinicians track diet, sleep, and exercise, as part of the initiative to promote wellness rather than responding to illness. The key will be personalization based on real-time behavior observation.
- Data: Healthcare organizations will face mounting pressure to grant clinicians access to analytics tools and big data while being asked to protect patient data. Government or industry mandates could strictly rule whether and how non-health and health information are merged as privacy advocates become more vocal about the blurring privacy lines.
- Security: Instead of focusing primarily on compliance, security will shift toward risk management as healthcare organizations’ security infrastructures — technological, personnel, and management — mature.
- Back office: Providers will turn CIOs loose on internal operations, seeking new productivity and cost gains via IoT, cloud, automation, and other technological tools. The goal will be standardization, said Brent Lang, president and CEO of Vocera.
- Telehealth: Expect many of the bureaucratic holdups to disappear as the entire healthcare ecosystem — consumers, payers, and providers — recognizes the many benefits telehealth delivers with its widespread access to low-cost cellular or high-speed Internet connections.
- Treatment: Technologies such as 3D printing, analytics, artificial intelligence, and machine-to-machine learning will propel advances in medicine, executives said.
- Interoperability: Today the interoperability conversation focuses on electronic health records. Future conversations will expand to incorporate the gamut of applications and devices used across healthcare systems to ensure they can capture and share all patients’ data, no matter where consumers are treated.
- Value, not fees: In their continued shift to value-based pay, providers must add technologies that empower population health and patient engagement, and meet the evolving government mandates such as increasing levels of Meaningful Use, ICD-10, and HIPAA.
- IT departments: IT is likely to partner with specialists such as cloud service providers and HIPAA compliance firms, allowing internal staff to focus on how to integrate technologies into each workflow and department, or how to monetize certain services such as app development or imaging.
Source: InformationWeek Healthcare, 9/19/14
Geisinger Finds Telemedicine Cuts Readmissions & Costs For Heart Failure Patients
A Geisinger study released last week found that heart failure patients participating in a telemonitoring program were significantly less likely to be readmitted to the hospital. The program reduced the 30-day readmission risk by 44% and saved $3.30 for every dollar spent to implement the program. Participants used Bluetooth scales and IVR-based surveys designed to detect indicators of worsening conditions. When a participant’s biometrics or IVR responses went out of range, researchers were alerted allowing them to follow up with patients immediately.
Source: FierceHealthIT, 10/3/14
App Use for Post-op Follow-Ups Is Viable & Cost-Effective
A second study published last week in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, found that using mHealth apps to monitor low-risk postoperative ambulatory patients was more cost-effective than traditional in-office follow-up visits. In this study, participants used a mobile app to answer survey questions and submit photos of their surgical site every day for two weeks. The report indicated that using a mobile app instead of scheduling an in-office follow-up doctor’s appointment saved an average of $38. Furthermore, the researchers found the app provided “richer data” compared to phone or in-person follow-up care.
Article: FierceMobile Healthcare, 9/28/14
Study: Journal of Medical Internet Research, 2014
Facebook May Join It’s Tech Rivals Moving Into Healthcare Space
Another big name appears to be throwing its hat in the health IT ring – Facebook. Reuters reported that Facebook may be looking to replicate existing health-specific social networks like PatientsLikeMe, by launching their own online communities to connect consumers with similar health conditions.
If Facebook does decide to direct its attention toward healthcare, it will be competing with other big-time players including Google, Apple, Samsung and possibly even Amazon. But for now, the question on everyone’s mind is how privacy concerns will play into the success of this potential healthcare initiative.
Source: Modern Healthcare, 10/3/14
VA Implements Waiting Room ‘Smart Chairs’
Vecna Health’s new “smart chair” is a real life example of the “Internet of Health Things” trend. The smart chair uses kiosks and waiting room furniture to capture patients’ biometric data while they wait to meet with their clinician (see photo below). This Vitals Chair provides patients more control and knowledge of their health while simultaneously reducing doctor workloads. The Vitals Chair is being tested at busy Virginia hospitals and clinics and has received very positive feedback thus far. All vitals taken by the smart chair are incorporated into VA’s electronic health record and online portal so that veterans and practitioners can track the information digitally over time.
Source: InformationWeek Healthcare, 9/25/14
Care Management, Customer Service Must Converge
The convergence of care management and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is the key to better health plans for both healthcare organizations and patient customers. The goal is to create innovative, member-centric, completely integrated programs that enable care teams to easily share data to better the collaboration of care among all the stakeholders in the care equation. The most effective programs have 10 key attributes:
- A unified platform
- A vehicle to aggregate patient information
- An analytics module to identify and stratify the population
- Outreach capabilities
- Assessment and care plan generation functionality
- Workflow and automation capabilities
- Authorization/prior-authorization functionality
- Correspondence generation
- Outcomes management
- Comprehensive reporting
Programs that have implemented these aspects reported improved quality of care, cost savings, and significant increases in positive customer service scores and member retention.
Source: InformationWeek Healthcare, 9/25/14
Image of the Week: Vecna Health’s “Vitals Chair”