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Top 10 Health IT Predictions For 2012

Healthcare reform, analytics, cloud computing, mobility, and social media will alter the health IT landscape over the next year, forecasts IDC Health Insights.

5 Key Elements For Clinical Decision Support Systems
5 Key Elements For Clinical Decision Support Systems
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In 2012, we will see new and successful accountable care organizations (ACOs), hospital CIOs tackling increasing security risks brought on by clinicians' use of mobile technology, and a majority of providers using electronic health records (EHRs).

These are a few of IDC Health Insights' top 10 predictions for 2012, based on year-long research and conversations with health industry executives. There are five overarching themes impacting the healthcare industry which will affect the future of health IT, according to IDC: health reform, analytics and big data, cloud computing, mobile devices, and social media.

"We are definitely into the next wave here. First we had to get the data digitized and begin to improve upon the workflows at the point of care. I think we are still a long ways off on some of the workflow improvements but we're putting in place the tools that will facilitate that clinical transformation," Lynne Dunbrack, IDC Health Insights' program director for connected health IT strategies, told InformationWeek Healthcare.

"Now that so much patient-related data has been digitized, we are in a much better position to aggregate that data and make it available to clinical analytics engines as well as standard business intelligence tools so that we can really begin to measure performance--financial performance, operational performance, and clinical performance."

[For background on e-prescribing tools, see 6 E-Prescribing Vendors To Watch.]

Here are the Top 10 predictions for 2012 from IDC Health Insights:

1. The majority of U.S. providers will use EHRs by the end of 2012. This will advance health information exchange functionality.

2. Providers will establish successful ACOs, which will emerge from private or public-private initiatives.

3. Health plans will rebrand in 2012 as the focus turns to consumers. According to IDC, in 2012 at least 70% of health insurance companies and technology resources (beyond ICD-10) will be channeled toward enhancing consumer engagement and care or health management strategies.

4. There will be greater integration of payment systems with clinical performance and outcomes. Twenty percent of health plans will leverage investment strategies started in 2010 and 2011 to integrate care, network, and payment strategies. Integrating these systems will help differentiate health plans and will allow for an increase in analytics software investments to support outcomes-based payment programs.

5. Pharmaceutical companies will add software that provides real-time alerts, data integration, and analytics to create actionable information that will drive operational efficiencies.

6. ACOs will need to develop an enterprise analytic framework that includes clinical analytics. 2012 will see ACOs battling to find significant IT and human resources to meet analytic requirements. These resources will be needed to support an integrated model that will make data available for all stakeholders, anywhere and anytime.

7. The relationships between pharmaceutical companies and outsourcing firms will shift from what historically has been one-off relationships with siloed systems of processes being outsourced, to broader and deeper partnering relationships across entire functional areas.

8. As physicians, nurses, and mid-level practitioners increasingly use their personal mobile devices to conduct work-related tasks, hospital CIOs will have to deal with increased security risks.

9. Health plans will deploy second-generation communication strategies, developed with the aid of analytics software, to support consumer communications throughout 2012.

10. The second generation of consumer communications will leverage consumers' social networks, including family, friends, and co-workers, to encourage healthy habits. For example, through mobile devices and social networking sites like Facebook, social connections can encourage (or prod) people to follow medical, diet, or exercise regimens, such as monitoring glucose or blood pressure readings on home health monitoring devices.

When are emerging technologies ready for clinical use? In the new issue of InformationWeek Healthcare, find out how three promising innovations--personalized medicine, clinical analytics, and natural language processing--show the trade-offs. Download the issue now. (Free registration required.)

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