5 Top Healthcare Technology Predictions for 2018
Health Wizz has taken a look at the past year’s developments, notable changes and growing challenges and made some bold predictions for the year ahead. Here are the 5 Top Healthcare Technology predictions for 2018.
1. More hospitals will be hacked and held hostage for ransomware
In 2017, there were over 250 data breaches, compromising over 4.4 million individuals, as reported by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office for Civil Rights. In cases where ransomware is demanded, hospital data breaches can negatively affect the accuracy and timeliness of patient information available to providers, and hence greatly influence patients’ care outcomes. A hacking incident can disrupt hospital servers, making patient data unavailable to providers while the servers are being restored, with dire consequences. Unfortunately, high profile data security breaches promise to continue their streak in 2018, and the potential for further devastating hacks of medical devices make healthcare IT security a key issue in healthcare organizations.
2. Interoperability will continue to be a top issue
The British Medical Journal recently reported that medical error is the third leading cause of death in the United States, after heart disease and cancer. Very often, “deaths by medical error” are caused by the persistence of data silos and lack of interoperability which, we believe, will be an increasing focus in 2018.
Significant progress on the interoperability front could be achieved through the implementation of Application Programing Interfaces (APIs) such as Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR). However, it remains unclear whether technology alone will be enough to overcome bad business practices to achieve true interoperability.
For decades, the abundance of proprietary protocols and interfaces that restrict healthcare data exchange have been entrenched in our healthcare system, along with tactics such as data blocking and hospital IT contracts that prevent data sharing. These may be harder to repeal than anything else known to healthcare.
3. Rise of consumer consciousness in healthcare
In 2018, consumers will increasingly turn to a variety of providers for their medical needs and will create their own health-management ecosystems to control where they access healthcare, from whom they access it, and what price they pay.
Smartphones, cloud computing, and global connectivity have created a universe of consumers accustomed to managing and accessing everything - from checking bank balances, making purchases, and watching movies - on mobile devices. These same consumers will expect health systems and organizations to provide similar innovative services.
- Contractors picked for £400mn Public Health England HQ
- Biopharma company Celgene is set to acquire Impact Biomedicines
- The Australian Medical Association rekindles the debate for a sugar tax
Newer, more secure, distributed digital upstarts emphasising speed and consumer experience will come to the rescue in 2018. Their solutions will center on collaboration among providers and consumers by enabling the secure and efficient exchange of health data—a vital step towards more efficient patient care delivery.
Regulations, compliance and value-based care and reimbursement policies will drive adoption of tools for chronic disease management and demand for advanced data and analytics capabilities.
Population Health Management and Clinicians in Accountable Care Organisations (ACOs) will turn to evidence-based decision making, and leverage expanded use of data and analytics to eliminate unnecessary utilisation and increase patient safety.
The promise of data analytics relies on progress on the interoperability front, in that data sources are readily accessible, complete and accurate, and can be easily integrated into standardised data sets on which sophisticated predictive modelling algorithms can be run.
State approvals will push Telehealth into the mainstream with expanded reimbursement policies, usage and outreach programs.
5. Adoption of blockchain in healthcare
With blockchain proving to be a robust decentralised platform that is poised to disrupt the financial world, digital healthcare start-ups will begin to leverage blockchain’s unique ability to put patients in control of their data. Given all the data breaches in healthcare, consumers will find it hard to trust any centralised entity with their health data, whether it is their clinical data, their genomic data, or data from their wearables.
Trustless and decentralised capabilities of blockchain will resonate with our ever-growing suspicion and scepticism of large centralised health data warehouses, which serve as honey pots for hackers and other bad actors.
If the consumer is spared from the complexity of understanding the workings of blockchain while fully benefiting from it, it will provide the missing pieces for an integrated and high-value marketplace of digital health records.
A new app is providing vital palliative care in Ethiopia
A new mobile phone app has been developed to support patients needing end of life care in Ethiopia.
The Ayzot app has been created in collaboration between the UK's University Surrey, the University of Strathclyde, Hospice Ethiopia, the Federal Ministry of Health and Hello Doctor Ethiopia, an Ethiopian-based software company.
The app is named after a common Ethiopian expression roughly translated to mean "to soothe a sick person". The app is aimed at supporting patients with life-limiting illnesses such as cancer and HIV/AIDS, by helping them manage pain along with other symptoms.
A self-assessment management system leads the patient or carer through a common set of symptoms such as pain, nausea, drowsiness, breathlessness, tiredness, and loss of appetite.
Successful symptom management
Both patients and carers are encouraged to use the Ayzot app to assess the severity of each symptom using a combination of measures, including a pain assessment scale. The app contains both pharmacological and non-pharmacological medication information, and where appropriate it directs the user to get help and further information on things like wound care, spiritual care and diet.
During beta user-testing, carers reported positive changes in how they treated their loved one’s wounds because of the advice found on the app. Healthcare professionals commented on the app's potential to support them in delivering targeted care with limited resources. The patients testing the app reported that it helped them feel more reassured and supported with their pain management and symptom control.
Accessing palliative care
The majority of Ethiopia's 114 million people live in rural locations where access to palliative care is difficult, and there is only one hospice in the entire country. The pandemic has made accessing care even more difficult. "During the COVID-19 pandemic, access to essential palliative care in Ethiopia has been reduced" Dr Nicola Carey, from the School of Health Sciences at the University of Surrey said.
"I believe the app will help prevent disease and treat patients. We hope that Ayzot will be embedded into the national palliative care clinical provision to support healthcare professionals and provide enhanced palliative coverage in Ethiopia.”
The team behind Ayzot are now planning to test the app in other African countries.