There’s never been a more dynamic time to be in the healthcare business.
There are daily discoveries of new ways to prevent, treat, and manage diseases and chronic conditions. Plus, technology is advancing at a remarkable rate. These advances improve the speed and accuracy of all kinds of service delivery.
In business, rapid change offers opportunities. It also presents risks.
With so many new systems, platforms, data points, and more, it can be difficult to know where growth is likely.
But with this summary of healthcare IT trends to watch in 2018, you can make smart decisions and stay competitive.
If you think that 3D printers are only good for making plastic phone cases, think again.
For years, doctors have been using 3D printers to create sections of “bone” used in orthopedic replacement surgery.
More recently, pediatric cardiac surgeons began printing exact replicas of ill baby’s hearts. The model allows them to better study the precise issue with their tiny patient’s heart. They can also practice the surgery many times before doing the real thing.
This trend in technology-assisted healthcare will only continue. As more materials are available and the cost of the printers comes down, access will grow.
Another kind of 3D printing is revolutionizing medicine and pharmacology. In 2016, the first “printed” pill was approved by the FDA. Since then, more investment in the technology is making closer to the mainstream.
The three key advantages of “printed” pills are:
- Customized dosage to suit the patient’s metabolism, genetic markers, and body mass
- Personalized combinations of medications to treat co-existing conditions more effectively
- Medications can be produced in small amounts, allowing patients with rare conditions to get the treatment they need
Personalized pharmaceuticals is one of the most revolutionary technology trends in healthcare. It offers tremendous opportunity for patients and healthcare providers. But it represents a risk to the pharmaceutical industry.
We’re growing accustomed to wearing technology. We use devices to measure our steps, assess our golf swing, or record the route we take on a morning run.
But healthcare wearables can do so much more. One of the fastest growing trends in healthcare IT is wearables that help manage serious chronic illness.
For example, a patient could wear a device that monitors key health indicators. If anything goes beyond normal ranges, an alert can go to their healthcare provider. Quick decisions about treatment become possible.
A related trend in healthcare IT is wearables that can also deliver medication through the skin or a permanent intravenous line. The benefits of this potential service delivery method are many.
It can improve outcomes through the immediate and more precise delivery of medication. Patients can experience greater freedom and quality of life. Healthcare costs are lowered by fewer office visits and recurring issues.
It’s standard practice for research to be peer-reviewed. Peer reviews can also help verify diagnoses and treatment plans.
But because humans are involved, there’s room for mistakes or abuse. It doesn’t happen often, but peer reviewers can be swayed by assumptions, laziness, ambition, or corruption.
That’s part of why using artificial intelligence (AI) in healthcare is revolutionary. With AI, there is no personal bias. It can’t get tired or feel the pressure of workloads.
Plus, AI can access hundreds of times more data in much less time than any person reviewing a diagnosis or treatment plan. Confirmation or contradiction comes sooner. In turn, healthcare decisions can be made sooner and with greater certainty.
Electronic Health Records
Electronic health records (EHR) is a valuable intersection of technology and healthcare. It’s also surprisingly complex.
EHR creates the ability to record and store notes, results, and biometric stats in a uniform and repeatable way. It can save time during examinations and at labs.
But it can also do more.
EHR presents the opportunity for faster, more secure sharing of information about a patient’s health. Diagnostic technicians can get results to physicians sooner. Exchanges between specialists and family doctors can happen in minutes, not days or weeks.
Patients can have access to their own health information. There’s a growing list of quantifiable benefits of EHR. But that doesn’t diminish the qualitative benefits. Patients often become more confident in their healthcare and have greater involvement (real or perceived) in their treatment.
EHR and Business
Of course, the benefits to the business of healthcare is possibly the strongest driving force behind this IT trend.
Everyone from front-line staff to behind-the-scenes administrators and clinicians saves time. Many times, they can create, access, and retrieve electronic health records in one step. There’s also an opportunity to automate workflows to improve accuracy and prevent documentation gaps.
EHR can facilitate faster and more accurate diagnoses and treatment plans. Anonymous comparisons of key data against symptom and outcome databases can be a powerful diagnostic tool. This saves time and money for everyone.
Trends in an individual’s health can also be identified sooner as the scope of their personal EHR grows. Prevention and early diagnosis are key to controlling healthcare spending.
There is little doubt that electronic health records offer benefits to everyone.
But what are the risks?
For businesses, there are three key concerns:
It’s one thing to be able to create electronic records. It’s quite another to store them in a secure and sustainable way. As technology advances, the ability to hack into systems does too.
Security leaks present a threat to personal privacy. But that’s not the only concern. Ensuring that identifying data isn’t shared with unauthorized parties is a significant responsibility.
Maintaining a relevant infrastructure is another challenge for the healthcare industry. Data collection is only valuable if it can easily be retrieved and shared.
Rapid changes to platforms and file types can make dealing with legacy systems time-consuming and expensive.
The Effect of Healthcare IT Trends on Your Business
In the end, all current healthcare IT trends have one common aspect. They all generate data.
How a healthcare business approaches data management and leverages workflow automation directly affects its ability to compete.
Savvy leaders know that the value of data in healthcare continues to grow. Organizations need to stay nimble in how they collect, store, and share the data to reap the financial benefits.
At Trinisys, we help organizations of all sizes leverage their investment in healthcare IT.
Examples of how we do this include converting legacy data into newer formats, getting internal systems to “talk to” each other more efficiently, and building automated workflows.