2014 Health IT Trends: Technology Set to Tackle Inefficiency in Healthcare

Neal Benedict
Neal Benedict

Guest post by Neal Benedict, healthcare CEO at Verdande Technology.

Over the past year, economic pressure and regulatory changes have increased scrutiny around areas of inefficiency within the healthcare industry. With new policies like the Affordable Care Act creating the need to improve patient outcomes and prevention, 2014 will be the year for much needed efficiency upgrades across the board at hospitals. And with mounting pressure to cut costs amidst anticipated physician and other major shortages, new and innovative ways to leverage technology will be called upon to usher in changes for the healthcare industry.

The business of care will continue to be a major area of focus for hospitals in 2014. Preventable, adverse events because of medical errors cost the healthcare industry more than $29 billion in 2013 and have led to between 50,000 to 100,000 deaths each year. Healthcare professionals and hospitals cannot afford to continue accepting medical errors as balance sheet losses, which are not only jeopardizing profitability, but patient care. To save money and improve patient care at the same time, hospitals will look to learn from technology being used successfully by other industries in 2014 to enhance real-time analysis and, thereby, prevention and outcomes.

The Affordable Care Act had vast implications for the healthcare industry in 2013. Website issues aside, the increase in access will result in a number of new patients across the country. There are simply not enough physicians to handle this type of rapid growth, which will lead to concern over effective and comprehensive care. In 2014, prevention technology will be necessary to help keep people out of hospitals. By utilizing, for example, a system like case based reasoning; physicians can work to prevent long term hospital visits for situations that could have been prevented at the early stages.

Predictive analytics have been used successfully within other industries, such as oil and gas, to help prevent non-productive time that can save $millions. By understanding what normal outcomes are the industry’s historical data can be used to predict when an abnormal event, similar to one seen in the past, might occur. Despite the tremendous benefits predictive analytics can provide for better decision management, the healthcare industry has delayed adopting this approach, until now, for a number of reasons, including cost and legacy technology issues. Clinicians lacked the tools available to manage and leverage healthcare big data needed for real-time decision making, something that could greatly improve the risk for medical errors.

However, as awareness grows around predicative analytics, the approach has started to take hold in the healthcare industry as well. The use of real-time analytics is also helping to improve transparency for administrators and patients around costs associated with procedures. As this data is analyzed and the cases are built, alerts can be sent to both the hospital and to the patient about potential costs, helping to improve overall cost transparency and provide the data necessary for administrators and physicians to better make decisions. In 2014, adopting analytics techniques favored by the likes of Wall Street and major oil and gas companies will be necessary to make data backed decisions in real time and lower the risk for medical errors to improve the overall bottom line for hospitals.

Leveraging big data and predictive analytics in the healthcare industry has promise but what will be some of the techniques leveraged in 2014? With, for example, Case-Based Reasoning (CBR) platforms, a large number of data on patient cases can easily be leveraged through a database to index past experiences and data on the situation and patient. The system can then use real-time data from the patient to continuously search the database for previous cases and risk profiles, enhancing the physician’s ability to search for relevant cases with information they need to improve patient outcomes. By providing an accurate assessment of whether a similar scenario is likely to occur on the operating table, CBR empowers clinicians with the evidence-based knowledge to make more comprehensive decisions improving patient outcomes.

By adopting these types of predictive techniques in 2014, the healthcare industry gains the opportunity to also prove to regulators that they are on the path to improving patient outcomes. This will help further demonstrate compliance and efficient patient management at hospitals.

The healthcare industry can no longer delay its adoption of efficiency based technology. The macro economic trends in 2013 have posed a number of challenges for the industry, though these challenges are creating the opportunity for a higher level of efficiency and cost cuts. If physicians have historical reference support in real time, there can be an improvement of patient care and a higher level of efficiency that will streamline efforts at hospitals.

Expect 2014 to be the year to focus on how technology can help the healthcare industry, and expect other industries to lend a “consultant” hand.

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