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5 Trends Will Reshape Health IT In 2013

Look for growth in mobile health, telemedicine, clinical analytics, and personal health records—and an EHR vendor shakeout.

11 Super Mobile Medical Apps
11 Super Mobile Medical Apps
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
Ultimately the goal of all healthcare--IT included--is to put itself out of business. That may sound a bit strange but medicine's primary objective is to cure disease, or prevent it from occurring in the first place. And as the profession gets better at these two tasks, the public should become increasingly self-sufficient and have less and less need for its services.

How far down this path will we be in 12 months? Probably not too far. But we are making progress on five fronts:

Mobile Health. This segment of the industry offers the most promise. It's no exaggeration to describe consumers' and physicians' embrace of mobile health apps, smartphones, and tablets as transformational.

Docs are in love with their iPads, and for good reason. When IT teams were asked "Which mobile computing devices are doctors in your organization using for medical purposes" in InformationWeek Healthcare's 2012 Priorities Survey, 66% cited iPads or other tablets, up from 45% just a year earlier. This love affair continues to develop because tablets give them access to EHR data, drug reference materials, and a host of valuable data that in the past was only available in the office or hospital. That kind of access should improve patient outcomes.

Similarly, consumers are loading all sorts of fitness apps on their phones, while patients with chronic diseases are taking advantage of apps and iPhone attachments that let them measure blood pressure, blood glucose, and much more.

[ Are you ready to take on another tough job? Read Health IT's Next Big Challenge: Comparative Effectiveness Research. ]

Roughly half of consumers predict that within the next three years mobile health will improve the convenience (46%), cost (52%), and quality (48%) of their healthcare, according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) survey of consumers, payers, and physicians in both developed and emerging markets around the world.

Whether or not this enthusiasm translates into better health and less need for medical services will depend in part on the "stickiness" of these apps. Unfortunately many consumers fall out of love with their mobile health apps after only a few uses.

Personal health records. Speaking of stickiness, PHRs seem to have none. Until recently few consumers have signed on for standalone PHRs, and I've devoted a fair amount of digital ink to reasons why that's the case. But that will likely change in the next year or so--at least for those consumers who have the most skin in the game, namely patients with chronic, life-threatening disorders.

I suspect so-called "interactive PHRs" will catch on in 2013. These digital tools link personal health records to electronic health records.

It seems Microsoft is placing its bets on this PHR/EHR marriage as well. The company has launched a pilot program with Greenway Medical Technologies that will add clinical data from PrimeSuite, Greenway's electronic health record, to Microsoft's HealthVault platform. The joint effort will let patients create a HealthVault account and access their clinical information from PrimeSuite's PrimePatient online portal, including demographics, allergies, medications, vital signs, social and family history, procedures, labs tests, and patient care plans.

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Dick Weltz
Dick Weltz,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/13/2013 | 9:51:30 PM
re: 5 Trends Will Reshape Health IT In 2013
The generalization made in the first paragraph makes no sense. Many conditions requiring medical/surgical care are not preventable, e.g. cataracts, accidental injuries, etc. And many conditions requite increasingly difficult and skilled care, e.g. robotic surgery, stem cell growth to replace organs/tissue. So diseases and the need for costly care are not disappearing any time soon, as the writer would have us think.
User Rank: Apprentice
10/4/2012 | 2:34:19 PM
re: 5 Trends Will Reshape Health IT In 2013

I agree with 4 out of 5 of your trends for 2013. I think your take on the EHR vendor shake out will not come to pass. Indeed, MU rule changes in August have opened the door for more vendors to participate.

Changes in rules and requirements for EHR vendors to achieve meaningful use certification have been relaxed to allow "innovation" from point solution vendors who need now only to address a portion of the many MU requirements for EHR certification. For example, a vendor who can demonstrate "data portability" between EHR solutions can be certified.

The changes are an admission by the HITECH MU rules creators that EHR vendor interoperability is woefully inadequate and solutions developed outside the healthcare industry could be used to provide a modicum of data governance - which is sorely lacking in healthcare IT today.

The MU committee, in its August report estimates as many as 600 vendors could address the data portability requirement alone. You should expect to see many more vendors entering the space not fewer.
Dana Tee
Dana Tee,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/1/2012 | 6:32:54 PM
re: 5 Trends Will Reshape Health IT In 2013

Good list of predictions here. From a patient perspective I believe health IT is about giving people the tools they need to take charge of their own health. I predict 2013 will be the year patients ask, "where's my data?" Now institutions need to figure out what kind of technology will help to meet this need. This blog by DICOM Grid talks about the future of health IT and elaborates on my point.
User Rank: Apprentice
9/6/2012 | 3:26:06 PM
re: 5 Trends Will Reshape Health IT In 2013
Actually, the ones that will survive will be just like every other successful business. They will lead the market, create satisfied customers, and manage their financial health. Mobile is a given. However, Telemedicine and PHRs are still considered by many to play a secondary role to what is important right now... and that includes getting a practice onto a pragmatic and sustainable platform, become all electronic, and link up with equipment, labs, payers, other providers/groups, and patients via secure methods of communication.

Telemedicine is arguably a separate business model. Patient Health Records are driven entirely by the desire of the patient to use it, not by the fact that it exists as a technology.
User Rank: Apprentice
9/2/2012 | 10:19:03 PM
re: 5 Trends Will Reshape Health IT In 2013
My best guess is that the EHR vendors who can best coordinate their mobile, telemedicine, and PHR offerings will be the ones best suited to survive the EHR vendor war. It's amazing how much easier it is to implement an EHR utilizing iPads/iPhones with physicians, it gives them something to look forward to.
Jay Simmons
Information Week Contributor
Leo Regulus
Leo Regulus,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/27/2012 | 5:08:24 PM
re: 5 Trends Will Reshape Health IT In 2013
You have made some client-unfriendly changes.
When we hit the 'Print' Icon, we expect to see the entire article as one page and relatively 'free' of garbage.
On this article, it was necessary to go to page 2 to get the whole article.
The result was also littered with garbage.
I will not insult your intelligence by specifically what I define as 'garbage'.
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