Is Gartner Right in Recommending that Healthcare Embrace or Avoid these IT Trends?
Though there no longer necessarily a “season” for trend and projection pieces, but given our place in the calendar year, it’s appropriate that analyst firm Gartner recently released its latest piece, “Healthcare IT Trends to Embrace/Health IT Trends to Avoid,” published recently on CIO.
The following tips are part of a larger article about big data that, other than being a bit of a clumsy read, is worth a look. One of Gartner’s top healthcare analysts, Vi Shaffer, opines about the current state of healthcare and how those in it can begin to embrace the changes ahead.
So, without further ado, here’s some of the things you should definitely do (according to Gartner, that is), if you’re seeking ROI. I’ve made some edits to the list in points not relevant to this blog.
- Big data. Along with big data, you need to make sure you’re making a move to structured data collection. In its most simple terms, you need to make sure that all of the data being collected in the practice is being collected in the same fashion, and that all of the same data is being collected. Once your data gets “bigger,” you’ll be better able to work with and analyze it. According to Gartner, “This may take time to implement, but it will have a “transformational” benefit and organizations that implement all facets of big data by 2015 can expect to start to outperform their competitors by as much as 20 percent.”
- E-visits. “This facet of telemedicine is catching on now that EHR systems and patient portals include secure messaging. Success comes with setting expectations and enforcing policies,” Gartner says.
- Wireless health asset management. Putting RFID chips on anything that moves—equipment as well as patient wristbands—is an “increasingly routine component of cost and patient care quality management.” Since there’s a lot to monitor, CIOs must collaboration with clinical engineering or biomedical device departments.
According to Gartner, the following are four healthcare IT trends to avoid. For various reasons, I don’t agree with any of these reasons, do you?
- Patient decision aids and personal health management tools. These appear largely in the form of interactive apps that educate patients or help them make care decisions, such as seeking treatment or undergoing surgery for a particular ailment. Though, Gartner says their effectiveness is questionable and adoption remains low, I’m not sure I’m convinced that they should be avoided. There is some value to these programs, especially if they help with patient engagement and education.
- Personal health records. “The concept is attractive, as it gives patients ownership of their data, but poor usability and vendor disinterest have hindered adoption. Only with a government mandate, as is the case in Australia, does PHR adoption seem to catch on, Gartner says. Patient portals, which connect patients directly to their caregivers, are more popular.” Not only are they more popular, they are required through meaningful use and, if leveraged properly, can be quite effective in helping drive engagement and education.
- The patient-centered medical home. “There’s been much discussion of making this a reality, especially in light of the accountable care organization model, but information exchange challenges and a reimbursement model unfavorable to insurers hinder adoption.” Again, not sure if I agree with Gartner. I don’t have any hard reasons why except that for some, they actually have proven successful. Check out this piece for more about a practice that clearly has leveraged the PCMH successfully.
- Patient self-serve kiosks. “While these can streamline patient registration and payment collection, the ROI isn’t there, Gartner says. Most organizations are better off focusing on meaningful use or the conversion to the ICD-10 code set, which must be done by Oct. 1, 2014.” Again, for some organizations, these are simply good tools help streamline the patient intake process. They may not improve ROI, but they can get people into the practice more easily and to their physician without the cumbersome paper and pen approach.