The 2017 Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society Conference & Exposition (HIMSS) recently wrapped up in Florida, and there was ample discussion about the hottest topics and trends in technology and health care.
Like most industries today, healthcare needs to adapt and change to keep pace with the digital transformation and shifts in consumer demands affecting the market, and there was no shortage of insightful presentations and technologies on display. From population health to cloud computing, here’s a look at some of the buzz-worthy topics we heard at this year’s event:
Consumerism of patient care
Consumerization in healthcare is changing the role of patients passively receiving care to consumers as active participants in their own wellness and healthcare decisions.
In 2017, the shift from provider-focused to patient-focused healthcare will continue. Look for the continued evolution of a holistic approach that creates a comprehensive healthcare “experience.”
Expected services are no longer limited to self-serve online scheduling or convenient blood glucose monitoring. Particularly in the hospital environment, the new wave ushers in patient amenities such as on-demand video entertainment, wireless internet and room service style dining.
Of course, as personalized services escalate, so do the demands on IT and related systems to enable the capabilities and services patients demand
Value-based healthcare is the new normal
While value-based reimbursement is no longer a new concept, many healthcare providers are still wrestling with the best way to implement the appropriate value-based systems into their workflow. Value-based care requires the ability to measure performance and track a variety of quality measures across many patient populations while reducing costs and optimizing margins.
The biggest hurdles providers face boil down to a lack of sufficient IT resources, sophisticated IT capabilities and interoperability challenge.
Electronic health records systems (EHRs) allow patient data to be shared among authorized practitioners seamlessly – at least in theory. It’s widely acknowledged throughout the healthcare industry this is easier said than done. The technical challenges of integration go beyond the boundaries of a hospital system to include the entire spectrum of patient care, from telehealth monitoring to input from personal devices.
One possible solution: blockchain. Blockchain has the potential to connect fragmented systems, improve efficiencies and security by creating a system with transaction records stored and distributed across all network participants.
While the technology is not fully mature, it’s no wonder there’s a lot of buzz around the topic.
AI and machine learning
Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning can use data patterns and recognition, as well as natural language processing, to transform population health. Health-care providers are capitalizing on cognitive computing as a way to reduce clinician workloads, simplify workflows and increase efficiency. These cognitive systems may help healthcare providers make more accurate diagnoses, create treatment plans based on cutting-edge medical research, and more.
Securing the continuity of care
Health care has become one of the biggest targets for cybercriminals. Many people within health-care organizations, from clinicians to administrators, have access to personal health information, and institutions have quickly adopted tools to utilize that information however they have also frequently failed to put the needed safeguards in place.
In addition, health-care data continues to grow in volume and value. Records are typically comprehensive and include personally identifiable information, making them a target for health-care fraud. Also, there is a heavy reliance on compliance measures, which haven’t kept up with the complex security landscape.
The emphasis on cybersecurity will only grow in 2017, as health-related IT data and networks remain appealing targets.
The growing reliance on the cloud
The evolving requirements of health-care IT fit in well with the capabilities of cloud computing. In order to gain greater cost efficiencies, increase agility, develop more robust business continuity and disaster recovery platforms, and keep pace with next-generation platforms, health-care organizations are expected to migrate to the cloud in large numbers this year.
Cloud adoption in health care accelerated throughout 2016, and many organizations are looking for ways to improve analytics and test development environments. One of the most significant ongoing trends with respect to the cloud is the move to hybrid IT environments. While many health-care providers depend on the cloud for only part of their technology infrastructure, a growing number are realizing the value of having multiple public and cloud providers to meet their specific requirements.
Internet of Things (IoT) and wearables
Health-care companies are learning they can leverage IoT devices to drive enhanced patient care and predictive health. The health-care ecosystem is evolving in its ability to make use of newly connected devices to enhance patients’ ability to monitor their own health.
Even more important, this trend gives providers the ability to access patient data when they’re outside of the hospital. However, as organizations increase the reach and reliance on big data, it will be increasingly important that they also keep security top of mind when it comes to protecting networks.
It’s no wonder the tagline for HIMSS is “Where the brightest minds in health care and IT meet.” The information, technology and ideas shared and discussed this year are sure to fuel discussions, debated and innovation for some time to come.