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.
NHSX releases new data plans, experts call for transparency
Patients in England will get "greater control" over their health and care data according to new proposals set out by the government.
In a new draft strategy called "Data saves lives: reshaping health and social care with data", Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock says that more effective use of data will deliver better patient-focused care. "This strategy seeks to put people in control of their own data, while supporting the NHS in creating a modernised system fit for the 21st century which puts patients and staff in pole position."
Under the new plans people will be able to access their medical records from different parts of the health system through different applications, to access test results, medication lists, procedures and care plans.
The strategy, published by NHSX, the government department that sets policies for the use of technology within the NHS, follows delays to the creation of a central database of patient records amid concerns over data sharing and a lack of transparency, with critics saying that only a small proportion of the public were made aware of the plans and the choice to opt out.
Kevin Curran, senior member of The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and Professor of Cybersecurity at the University of Ulster, says that moving health records online raises concerns. "The move to an online app does seem like a natural progression, however there is a difference between having computerised records within our healthcare IT infrastructure and having those records reside on a public facing server.
"Having records inhouse limits the range and type of access – it's far more difficult for remote hackers" Curran said. "There are techniques that healthcare organisations can use to reduce the risk of future data breaches. One way is to make it ‘opt in’, so patients have the choice to decide whether their medical information is moved to a public facing service so that they can access it.
"However, those who do not opt in or download the app instead should have their records hosted in a non-public-facing cloud service. This way, if a data breach does occur, those who never used the app, or not wanted to, will not have had their details released."
The new strategy has been welcomed by some, with an emphasis on the need for transparency. Adam Steventon, Director of Data Analytics at the Health Foundation, said: "Health data has played a critical role in the last year – from tracking COVID-19 outbreaks and developing treatments, to getting people booked in for their vaccines. It is critical that the use of data is accelerated if the NHS is to tackle the backlog of care and address the massive health challenges facing the country.
"It is particularly positive that the government has committed to building analytical and data science capability in the NHS and to improving data on social care. To ensure the full potential of data can be realised, the government must ensure transparency on how it will be used and the rights and options people have, as well as engaging with the public and health care professionals to build trust and show people how their data can improve the NHS and save lives."