Health IT Trends For 2020: Some Thoughts From Leaders

Ekg, Heart, 2020, Calendar, Peace

David Reitzel, health IT leader, Grant Thornton

Healthcare providers continue to find themselves with more initiatives and opportunities for innovation than actual capital to deploy to IT projects. Health IT projects have become more integrated with clinical and business areas, which is driving more complexity and alignment than ever before. 2020 will bring a continue focused on the following trends and one growing concern:

Defining and rightsizing AI for your organization. Additionally, organizations will begin and expand the ethical debate as to how broadly to use AI within their organizations. RPA/robotics will continue to expand, followed by deeper machine learning opportunities.

Big data and advanced analytics will continue to be a strong focus as clinical and business users seek the right data at the right time to help make the best decisions possible.

Back office and shared service technology means many organizations have not modernized their ERP platforms in 15 or 20 years. Organizations have gone through numerous transitions, mergers, consolidations, etc., with no core technology changes. Healthcare organizations now have the ability to adopt and deploy next-generation and cloud-based ERP solutions. After spending five to eight years deploying EMR/RCM solutions, organizations now need to focus on ERP modernizations and enterprise data standardization.

Data interoperability will continue to be at the heart of clinical care and enhancing healthcare operations. No one vendor can offer all the necessary functionality needed for healthcare providers; as such, organizations need to spend the necessary time and investment in not only deploying leading clinical, revenue cycle, and ERP solutions, but also an enterprise data interoperability platform. Point-to-point interfaces must be phased out in order to manage the complex enterprise multi-cloud ecosystems that all healthcare providers find themselves living in today with an enterprise data interoperability platform. These platforms offer APIs to help reduce development / connection time, but they don’t always lessen the complexity of business.

With the continued trend toward cloud and hybrid cloud environments, cybersecurity needs to be front and center in all conversations. Organizations need to continue to invest in the development of the correct skills and partnerships to effectively manage cybersecurity in 2020 and beyond.

Health IT resourcing will continue to be in a short supply. The IT resources of 2020 and beyond are not your traditional database administrators or network engineers – they need to have project management skills, business / clinical skills, the ability to manage third parties and actual knowledge of the applications and tools the business uses. Health IT resources need to transform into health IT partners, helping the operations transform by supporting technology enablement.

Jordan Pisarcik, vice president of account management and business development, DocASAP

Providers and health systems will look to more unified, omnichannel solutions to close gaps in care. Health systems will invest in tools and technologies used to streamline the patient journey, including elastic provider search, navigating patients to the right care setting and engaging with patients between visits.

Gone are the days of the adversarial position between payers and providers, replaced now by integrated “payviders.” Through collaboration, “payviders” are expected to reduce financial risk, increase profitability and provide higher quality medical care to patients. Payers also represent a digital channel for providers to improve access to care that can help them meet these objectives.

Health systems will continue to see an increased demand for non-traditional visit types, such as telehealth/virtual appointments, walk-ins, home visits and phone appointments.

In 2019, voice search dominated the news as a major trend; however, consumers won’t see mass adoption of this new technology quite as quickly as anticipated. Still, healthcare systems are working to utilize this new medium as a way to close gaps in care.

Sean Price, EMEA industry solutions director (public sector and healthcare), Qlik

There has been a shift in focus from a traditional use of data and analytics where it has been used for compliance and performance, to a use where operational users are driving decision making and better outcomes at the point of service. The Analytically Powered Command Centre is a great example of this. Healthcare organizations will look to maximize the value of their data by bringing patient flow information into a near real-time environment command center to efficiently manage the end to end process of patient safety, experience and cost. This will enable strategic and tactical management of demand, resource and capability that can lead to process improvement, improved outcomes and notable efficiency savings.

However, moving data to the point of operational front-lines does challenge traditional support and continuity for these systems. Traditionally they would not require 24/7 support – this shift moves big data systems into a new support and maintenance style model.

As more data and insight is being provided to staff, there is the topic of data literacy. A key trend this year will show when you skill up staff in analytics it provides better outcomes and realizes significant productivity gains.  Sometimes data literacy is channeled towards just using a system, rather than understanding statistical significance in data. Arguing with data means you present a case with data, and this requires an understanding of significance and goes way beyond system training.

Kelli Bravo, vice president of healthcare and life sciences, Pegasystems

Over the past decade, the healthcare industry has been – and continues to be – burdened by complex legacy technology that is not only difficult to update, but also creates opaque siloes of data. This has created challenges for two major aspects of the industry: regulatory change and the consumerism of healthcare.

Regulations such as HIPPA, GDPR, CCPA, as well as those on the horizon such as the Cures Act, require quick adoption of new practices to ensure compliance. But with older technology, it becomes much more complicated to do so. The industry will always have to comply with new regulations – each one bringing new sets of challenges – so it’s imperative to embrace low-code, agile technology that enables easy and compliant organizational updates. Otherwise, older legacy systems will create even more barricades with serious consequences and penalties.

Additionally, the industry has seen a rise in the consumerism of healthcare – it’s been proven that if patients have more control of their own health, their outcomes are better. This movement of empowered consumers taking ownership of their own health is putting pressure on the industry to become more patient-centric. Part of this is the ability to share data with patients, and the other is sharing data among different organizations across the care continuum to foster better patient experiences.

To move past how the industry has and – in many cases – still works today, we need to transition out of legacy systems which silo both patient information and different departments that can cause gaps in care. Patient-centric approaches require increased transparency and connectivity between consumers and providers, payers, and pharma organizations to ensure more transparent decision making with better outcomes – both health and business.

Chris Logan, director of healthcare industry strategy, VMware

Healthcare IT is rapidly changing. As new advancements in care delivery models continue to be at the forefront of digital transformation, 2020 will be no different. As such, healthcare organizations must ensure they have the right tools and technologies in place to prioritize patient care, while overcoming scalability, availability and budget challenges.

One area that needs to move to the top of the list is what consumerism actually means to the patient experience. There’s a lot of industry discussion about the patient experience on one end of the spectrum – urban areas, patients with access to care and care technologies. But the other side of it isn’t a common discussion — the experience for someone in a rural environment, or someone without the same level of access to care.

As we progress with digital health technologies that provide care to larger demographics and across more geographic area, consumerism becomes a bigger part of puzzle. Healthcare is about the people that use it and consumerism helps the system become more equitable and efficient.

While not a new topic to healthcare, we as an industry are going to need new and innovative ways to address the cost of healthcare. It is and will remain the largest single problem in the industry. According to the National Health Expenditure Accounts, health spending accounts for almost 18 percent of our nations GDP. Technology can help to reign in some of the spending by eliminating siloes and standardizing and sharing healthcare data. Each patient should be able to visit a doctor’s office, move onto a specialist and then to a hospital without the duplicate efforts filling out paperwork. The time and cost of each of these interactions creates inefficiencies, adds to cost and hampers the patient experience.

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