Amidst regulatory changes, evolving patient expectations, and emerging technology, healthcare providers find themselves in a very interesting, and challenging, ecosystem. Of course, while these pressures present obstacles to success, they also present an enormous opportunity for providers that are able to be nimble and adapt to a continually shifting “new normal.”
Today, healthcare providers are able to provide exceptional care to patients and, with the proper technology and processes, can maintain a 360-degree view of a patient’s health profile, allowing for more accurate diagnoses and more effective treatment plans. At HealthTECH Resources, Inc., company leadership works with many of the nation’s leading providers and have built a keen understanding of trends that are impacting the space. Here are a few that will likely have a critical impact on the way providers and patients alike will manage healthcare in the near term.
Not surprisingly, the advent of COVID caused huge increases in the provision of telehealth services. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), pre-pandemic, “hundreds of thousands” of annual telehealth visits for Medicare patients exploded into the “tens of millions” of visits. This shift in care delivery was unprecedented and, now that it’s become a staple in healthcare, the momentum is unlikely to stop.
Telehealth makes it easy for people to access healthcare from the comforts of their own home with no need to drive (or seek a ride) and it eliminates geographic restrictions. To facilitate telehealth care, Congress relaxed their video conferencing requirements in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Plus, HHS notes, forty-two states plus Washington D.C. now require providers of private insurance to reimburse for telehealth visits.
Because of this trend, EHR technology is more important than ever before, allowing healthcare organizations to manage a person’s health records in one central place. Whether a patient comes into an office or facility or is treated through telehealth, a medical professional can have up to date information about a person[‘s diagnoses, lab results, prescriptions, treatments, and more in their EHR.
This streamlines the process for medical teams and patients, freeing physicians up to focus on providing the best possible care (instead of having to gather patient data from multiple places). Robust EHR applications allow for real-time synchronous consultations as well as asynchronous capabilities—physicians getting test results, patients checking online portals, and so forth—in one system.
#2 Big Data and Analytics
Today’s EHR systems can contain and manage huge amounts of data, and data analytics capabilities will only get more sophisticated. We see it happening now, as healthcare organizations have seamless access and transparent visibility into data, they can use it in predictive ways to further enhance the quality of patient care. Diagnoses and outcomes will improve and medical errors will lessen even further.
When EHR systems are implemented and populated with clean, accurate data, medical professionals can use inputs with confidence. Your data analytics team can customize reports in laser-targeted ways to help your organization strategically make decisions with efficient operations reducing costs.
Over time, these reports will allow key patterns to surface—with patient care, cycle times, insurance reimbursements, doctor and nurse productivity, and more. By gleaning and using this intelligence, doctors and specialists can see the successes of treatments with certain populations and conditions, and make exceptionally informed decisions.
#3 Blockchain Technologies
Decentralized, public blockchain ledgers provide significant accountability and cyber security as healthcare organizations exchange patient data. How? Each entry must be verified while being linked to the previous one and none can be retroactively changed without all subsequent entries being impacted. So, records can’t be modified or removed without group consensus. Because blockchain technology is decentralized, the lack of a central database makes it more difficult for someone with ill intent to hack.
This technology may simplify the management of healthcare provider directories and is starting to streamline patient informed content requests. We expect that its usage in financial payments will soon become quite significant.
Blockchain technology in EHR systems will ultimately transform single source EHR patient records. Medical insurers can have direct access to already-validated services and patients can confirm information without the use of a third party. This will result in time and money savings and the ability of healthcare organizations to benefit from even more advanced analytics.
#4 Artificial Intelligence and Machine/Deep Learning
Artificial intelligence (AI) leverages the power of computers to help solve problems and assist in decision making through its predictive outputs. Machine learning is the most common type of AI, and organizations can use this technology to take relevant data and shape it into models. They can then use the models and extrapolate information from them: for example, how to determine the best treatment for a patient. Or, a physician can use the results from predictive machine learning to determine if a patient is likely to develop a certain medical condition and proactively make recommendations.
Deep learning, meanwhile, is a scalable form of machine learning that requires even fewer human inputs. This more automated process has a second benefit: the ability to craft even more intricate models from which to glean insights. One study shows how AI algorithms already outperform radiologists when finding malignant tumors because its radiomics allow leson cell detection beyond what a person could see. Possibilities are endless.
#5 Preventive Medicine
It’s no secret that preventive medicine is a rising trend in healthcare as patients, insurance providers, and care providers alike recognize the benefits of preventing a disease rather than having to treat it once it presents itself. Preventive medicine is also more cost-effective, helping reduce the level of wasted services and procedures needed to diagnose and treat. And there is plenty of waste. In fact, according to Meritage Med, a whopping 30% of healthcare spending goes to waste. This includes unnecessary services like the overprescription of antibiotics, which wastes roughly $210 billion each year, and administrative costs for paperwork, which wastes an estimated $190 billion. As wearable technology such as Apple Watch and Fitbit becomes more pervasive, individuals will continue to take greater control over their own healthcare, which will reduce the burden on providers and (hopefully) lead to greater overall wellness.
#6 Integrated Technology
On the provider side, technology has enabled greater transparency of patient data than ever before, equipping doctors and medical teams with insights that allow for more optimal and customized care. Still, we have a long way to go before there is complete integration across the entire care continuum and true transparency of patient health data. We expect this to be a dominant trend over the next few years as regulators push for both stronger integration across systems as well as enhanced data privacy for patients. With Medicare, as an example, there has been a discussion of mandating providers to participate in health information exchange activities. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) proposed to re-name the federal EHR Incentive Program, or meaningful use, choosing to now call the program “Promoting Interoperability.” Achieving interoperability across the broader technology stack will prove quite a challenge but will be key to success over the next several years.
#7 Emphasis on Talent Development
Technology is the dominant topic of discussion for healthcare management and has been for some time and, certainly, we don’t expect this to subside in the coming years. But in an era of revolutionary tech development, the importance of having dedicated and collaborative talent to support business needs has too often been ignored. A primary issue that many healthcare providers face is having inadequate talent resources to optimize the expensive and complex technology they have invested in, and we also work with many organizations on planning and process development to ensure that end users are set up for success. As the pendulum swings back a bit, we expect more emphasis to be placed on the talent side of the house, building teams both in-house and with outside resources across the entire spectrum of care.
As we’ve noted, as each of these trends continue to evolve and come into fuller fruition, healthcare organizations will need to have the appropriate amount of healthcare IT support. Organizations will need to have the human resource talent to implement and leverage the power of these incredible advancements. That’s where an experienced, forward-thinking healthcare IT company can help.
Contact HealthTECH Resources for Healthcare IT Solutions
As your healthcare facilities take advantage of the technologies and leverage the power of emerging trends, you’ll need to fill in knowledge gaps. Fortunately, that’s exactly what our boutique-style agency specializes in: augmenting your IT team in strategic ways.
HealthTECH Resources has more than twenty years of experience in staff supplementation for EMR/EHR experts, and we have deep and wide industry connections. Experts in our network who provide healthcare IT solutions are available as consultants, contract to hire professionals, and permanent placement, maximizing how you benefit from today’s cutting-edge advancements.
Leaders at our healthcare IT company will carefully listen to your needs and then match you with precisely the right professionals. These experts will work collaboratively alongside you to understand your technologies, goals and objectives, challenges, risks, and more. The result? They will contribute to your projects in deeply meaningful ways.
To receive the healthcare IT support you need, please contact us online or call (602) 903-7961. We can rapidly fulfill staffing requests even when your requirements are stringent. In fact, professionals can often be on your site within forty-eight hours.
PRESIDENT/CEO AT HEALTHTECH RESOURCES
Larry has specialized in building strategic healthcare relationships for over 25 years, helping the nation’s top payors and providers solve some of their most pressing business challenges through an intelligent mix of staffing services, training, and consulting.