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.
How health plans can reduce healthcare inequalities
The COVID-19 pandemic has put inequalities accessing the healthcare system in the spotlight. Jim Clement, Vice President of Product & Services at cloud provider Inovalon, tells us that health plans play the most integral role in advancing the health equity movement.
Why did it a global pandemic to highlight the issue of healthcare inequities?
Health inequity in the US has been well understood by healthcare professionals for many years, but it has become more evident due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It wasn’t until the racial and ethnic differential seen in response to COVID-19 related infections, deaths and vaccinations that many Americans became acutely aware of the health inequity due to sociodemographic factors such as race, geography, education and income.
Fortunately, there’s now a growing health equity movement afoot in America which aims to improve public health and achieve equity in health status for all people by ensuring opportunities are available to attain the highest level of health. While the entire healthcare ecosystem is important to this transformation, it is health plans that arguably play the most integral role.
How can health plans help?
Achieving health equity means obstacles to health must be removed, including poverty, discrimination, powerlessness, and lack of access to the basics like physicians, hospitals, medicine, technology, and health education. This is not only a social justice initiative, but also a clear call to action for health plan organisations that are bearing the economic brunt of the costs due to health disparities.
Health plan organisations that recognise the alignment between efforts to improve health equity and broader member engagement initiatives will be in the best position to move the needle. Plans must also understand that the provision of medical services within hospital walls, physician offices and other health services providers is necessary, but not sufficient.
By recognising that health inequity also includes non-medical factors such as employment, income, housing, transportation, childcare, and more, plans will be better equipped to ensure their members are set up for success.
What do healthcare providers need to do generally to address inequities?
Outreach by both health plans and providers is critical to ensuring people have knowledge of available services, the reason those services are critical to their health, and options to access those services based on their unique circumstances. With both stakeholders beating the same drum, progress can be made quickly.
Given the impact of social determinants of health (SDOH), should healthcare providers take a more active role in addressing these, or other agencies?
While communicating with patients is critically important, what is truly required to address inequalities is helping patients take medical actions – like regular PCP visits, monitoring A1C and accepting health coaching – that are necessary to maximise their health, along with non-medical actions –like availing themselves of community resources that address homelessness, food insecurity and employment services.
The most progressive providers and payers have or are putting in place programs to address these non-medical issues. In addition, non-medical tools such as transportation services can certainly help drive the effectiveness of medical services.
How important is it to educate patients about their health and how can this be done?
Education is a social determinant of health and a key lever to be used to drive health equity. Patients who do not understand their medical conditions or the consequences of non-compliance with their treatment plans are prone to poor outcomes.
For health plans, understanding member needs is one of the biggest drivers of quality care. A continuous cycle of engagement through feedback and appropriate responses will provide health plans with an opportunity to uncover, discuss, and resolve problems faster.
Improving member outreach and engagement can be made easier with a programmatic approach involving four stages of intentional outreach: Getting to know your members, educating members, seeking feedback from members and gaining member loyalty. Each stage not only contributes to a better member experience but also to improved outcomes and higher satisfaction scores.
Now that the issue has come to the fore, what do you think things will look like in 5 years or so?
I predict that health plans that get member engagement, education and equity right will achieve better health and greater value, faster. Those who get it wrong or delay will suffer the consequences of competitive disadvantage and pay a larger share of the rising costs associated with health inequity.