Healthcare & IT Trends to Watch in 2019

January 8, 2019

As we enter 2019 refreshed from holiday celebrations, there is a shared eagerness for the canvas of opportunity the New Year offers. To kick off the year, I invite you to consider some of the major healthcare IT trends when setting your organizational goals.

While healthcare policies may be slow to evolve, technology is changing rapidly. More importantly, the shifting landscape is affecting our work with patients on a profound, daily level.

Healthcare in the United States is increasingly headed toward a model of consumerism. Transparency in medical billing coupled with patients’ ability to easily “shop” for the best care in their area is driving the healthcare industry to improve patient satisfaction above all else. Additionally, the trend toward value-based care systems further embraces this consumerism model that will ultimately benefit everyone involved – from the insurance companies influencing healthcare policy to healthcare providers to patients.

If we are going to achieve our goals of advancing healthcare and improving health outcomes, we must incorporate healthcare IT trends into our plans. Then and only then will we be able to build solutions that shape the future.

As you and your organization plan for 2019, keep an eye on these four key healthcare IT trends.

Behavioral Health

Thanks to the nation’s increased awareness of and concern for the opioid crisis, behavioral health is in the spotlight. Healthcare providers and consumers alike are actively seeking improved treatment and prevention methods. Thankfully, this increased attention has led to several new technological advancements within integrated care that we can expect to continue in 2019.

In particular, data analytics through properly optimized EHRs can help us identify the patients who are struggling and those who may be most at risk for addiction. In past years, population health has been seen as a field overwhelmed by too much data and not enough processing power. That is quickly changing thanks to the latest healthcare IT trends.

As we begin to master the use of population health data and upgrade our analytical tools, we will be able to provide more coordinated care through integrated health. Tracking and analyzing trends in behaviors that point toward addiction will help us quash the opioid crisis far more effectively.

Specialization Facilities

Hospitals are the magnetic center of healthcare in our country. From minor injuries to neonatal care to major organ surgeries, a staggering portion of healthcare services are performed at hospitals.

Now, in 2019, we are likely to see an increase in the number of hospitals referring specific procedures to specialty centers and ambulatory surgery centers. While not necessarily a healthcare IT matter, this increase in the use of specialization facilities is driven by a tech-based model: value-based care.

Value-based care and its data-hungry reimbursement model are based on the key drivers of demand for specialization facilities. Soon we will see an increased need for refined IT tools that will help facilitate the enlightened model.

Healthcare IT trends are following the data demand. We need to know what desirable outcomes look like, how the patient will be best served to improve patient care, and the factors most likely to prevent readmissions.

Healthcare information technology allows us to make these complex determinations. With the proper tools, healthcare organizations can fully embrace the value-based care system and see dramatic improvements in overall patient outcomes.

Unfortunately, many facilities are overwhelmed by the sheer volume of raw data as well as the possibilities the data can yield. At John Lynch & Associates, we help our clients examine the data and identify how cases and processes as a whole can be better managed moving forward.

Cyber Security

Due to the widespread attention the public has given to data breaches in recent years, cybersecurity is becoming an increasingly important issue. Far more  patients and healthcare providers are aware of and concerned about data security today than ever before. Moreover, patients have greater expectations for healthcare organizations to protect their data.

At the same time, cybercriminals have become far more sophisticated. From advanced phishing scams using the names and profiles of reputable CEOs and CIOs in healthcare to manifest data breaches, cybercriminals have been able to develop incredibly advanced techniques for accessing patient health information, which has an absurd black market value.

Naturally, cybercriminals will always target the most vulnerable organizations and industries. As of now, the healthcare industry remains a prime target.

In 2019, one of the greatest IT trends we will witness is that more and more healthcare organizations will invest in IT security. The goal is to close the gap between the advanced techniques cybercriminals are using and our ability to protect patients successfully. We have a duty to patients and the laws of patient privacy to get ahead of the cyber criminals.

Thankfully, the tools we need to put a stop to cybercrime in healthcare are already available. We simply need to put in the time, invest confidently, and prioritize improving our current systems.

Organizations can easily be intimidated by the world of cybercrime and healthcare IT security. At John Lynch & Associates, our experts know the intricate inner workings of these systems and stay abreast of the emerging IT trends in cybercrime to better prepare our clients and their systems for potential threats.

Artificial Intelligence & Future IT Trends

The final IT trend we will examine has to do with artificial intelligence (AI). AI is becoming more prevalent everywhere – from in-home AI assistants like Alexa and Siri to technology that will soon make self-driving cars a reality – and the healthcare industry is no exception.

In the not-so-distant future, we can expect to see AI used in healthcare settings to automate processes, quickly process data, and delegate tasks to human team members.

Having AI initiate the first level of decision-making, assess risks, and analyze data subsets for critical health patterns will free up a significant amount of time for humans and make healthcare provision far more efficient.

For example, with AI, our systems will be able to unify data from various providers, process information at a higher level, and flag warning signs for possible opioid addiction.

We have already seen the emergence of AI in IT departments within healthcare organizations. These powerful systems are able to analyze network trends, identify problems and their causes, troubleshoot solutions, and scan emerging security threats before triaging them for human attention.

Cumulatively, these healthcare IT trends represent a massive leap into the future. Technology is becoming a bigger and bigger part of one of the most human industries in our country.

If we plan properly and embrace our ability to affect change, together we can dramatically improve the state of healthcare in the United States and give Americans the excellence they deserve.

What emerging healthcare IT trends have you noticed? Spark a conversation in the comments below and together we can welcome the future.

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