Healthcare in 2014: Three Opportunities on the Horizon

Jon Zimmerman
Jon Zimmerman

Guest post by Jonathan Zimmerman vice president and general manager, Clinical Business Solutions, GE Healthcare IT.

With key deadlines looming, 2014 will be a critical year for the healthcare industry, one marked by important industry milestones and advances. As ICD-10 implementation and meaningful use Stage 2 attestation approach, many are saying we have reached healthcare’s tipping point – where first of its kind opportunities for collaboration and innovation intersect with challenging regulatory standards and population health demands. In order to better facilitate these updates and solve potential market challenges, healthcare providers will need to blend innovative technological solutions with current operational systems.

As the industry evolves, we anticipate three key opportunities for 2014.

#1: Smarter Collaborations

New industry partnerships and alliances are being created to collectively address standardization and implementation. Healthcare IT organizations are working to adopt common standards and protocols to provide sustainable, cost-effective, trusted access to patient data. Payers and providers are coming together to ensure healthcare providers are setup up for success. Regulatory agencies, manufacturers and providers are working diligently to approve more devices, streamline communications and update payment codes in time for ICD-10 implementation. We are also seeing CIOs/CTOs work closer than ever before with physicians in order to reap the benefits of incentive driven initiatives like meaningful use Stage 2.

The new level of granularity in the code set also presents an opportunity for healthcare organizations to make better informed big-picture decisions about the future of data governance and the role of healthcare analytics. With the right tools, ICD-10 can be used as a gateway to accurate payment for new procedures, fewer rejected/ fraudulent claims, improved disease management and an estimated benefit over a ten (10) year period of more than $6 billion to the health care industry.[1]

It will be more critical than ever for providers to partner with the right vendors to meet their regulatory obligations while protecting their business as they engage in new revenue models and serve patients efficiently and effectively.

#2: The Empowered Patient

Giving patients access to their medical information via a patient portal — then getting them engaged with that portal — are both key components in Stage 2 meaningful use. Stage 2 meaningful use requires physicians to collaborate with patients in new ways. As a result, patients will continue to be involved their own care with better access to more information about their health.

Expect to see a focus on data analytics systems and health information exchanges that effectively interface and communicate with patients. New simple, affordable online and mobile services that let patients see a physician whenever and wherever they want will continue to place power in the hands of the patient. In addition to the support of qualified medical professionals, patients will have access to diagnostic test results, problem lists, medication lists, medication allergies, discharge summaries and procedures. Additionally in order for a provider to be meaningful use Stage 2 certified that access must be provided in a timely manner and the patient must be able to view, download or transmit their health information to a third party.

Meeting the new patient engagement criteria with meaningful use Stage 2 administered by the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) will necessitate a culture change for many organizations in addition to a technology upgrade. Organizations will need to shift their thought process from simply focusing on delivering care to patients to now collaborating with patients to manage and deliver that care.

Look out for new patient monitoring technology solutions that will allow individuals suffering from common chronic illnesses to live independently in their own homes with the assistance of their physician or caregiver. New patient monitoring tools will be critical in managing the influx of patients and provide effective patient care deliver due to Baby Boomers continuing to enroll in Medicare, the increase in information and data, and the increase of portable and chronic disease incidences.

#3: Connectivity and Approach

In 2014, we’ll see hospitals, health systems, clinics and practices streamlining and centralizing communications among departments and trading partners. New tools are being created now that promote integrated care through centralized portals that will make systems interoperable. These portals are pulling data out of different silos in order to follow the patient or certain cohorts – in an effort to become more proactive and prevent acute situations. 

It will be important for providers to have a “holistic view” of how hospital resources are working, at any point in time, in order to better care for a patient. Departments will have to be mutually accountable in order to develop a robust care delivery model that streamlines communications and meets meaningful use standards.

Demographic and economic driven process changes are challenging us to combine, implement, and adopt technological solutions in smart ways. Technology is an enabler in the improvement of the way healthcare is delivered globally and will help propel the industry forward, even through the most challenging of times. These changes require a continual process of planning, implementing, reporting, and then starting the process all over again. Overall, 2014 will require that we reinvent, redesign, and rejuvenate our organizations while remaining in rapid motion.

[1] “The Costs and Benefits of Moving to the ICD-10 Code Sets” 2004 RAND Study http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/technical_reports/2004/RAND_TR132.pdf

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