Healthcare IT professionals are in for another busy year in 2015, as medical organizations look for ways to build on the groundwork they've already laid with their investments in electronic health records (EHRs), early big data and analytics trials, and experiments in patient engagement and population health.
They'll also need to address federal mandates including Meaningful Use Stage 2, the push-pull of ICD-10 deadlines, and the government's demand for healthcare systems interoperability. No matter who resides at the White House after the 2016 election, throughout 2015 healthcare organizations should act as though the Affordable Care Act -- aka Obamacare -- will survive, in some form or another, several executives predicted.
"Despite no shortage of bombastic political theater, there’s going to be no way to put this genie back in the bottle. It would be political suicide to take away coverage from the tens of millions of newly insured," Dr. Peter Alperin, an internist at the San Francisco VA Medical Center, as well as VP and general manager of Connectivity Solutions at Doximity, told InformationWeek. "Physicians and health systems will need to find ways to deal with the new landscape of patients."
Many of these methods will rely on technologies that trim costs and inefficiencies, introduce best practices, and learn from other industries, such as manufacturing and finance, healthcare professionals predicted.
"Everyone is talking about the infrastructure or the 'how' -- analytics, mobile, etc. -- but the real focus needs to be on 'what and why' all this stuff is about results. It's the next logical step in the 'businessization' of healthcare," Jordan Dolin, co-founder of Emmi Solutions, told InformationWeek. "A big prediction for healthcare 2015 is that we'll see innovations around personalization, patient-centric, convenient mobile and population health. Analytics is not the hard part, it's knowing what to do with the data and we'll see more progress in that area."
Of course, healthcare organizations will continue investing in cloud, security, mobile (including wearables), and messaging. They will lobby for laws such as the MEDTECH Act, which concerns regulation of patient records and decision-support software, and argue the pros and cons of once again delaying ICD-10. Telehealth will gain even more traction as lawmakers, payers, and providers knock down some of the remaining boundaries.
They'll have to: People are living longer, healthier lives at a time when healthcare costs are growing at the same as -- or faster than -- the cost of living, said John Tempesco, senior director of marketing at AtHoc and former CIO for the Naval Medical Department Northeast Region.
"Technology companies are responding to both of these trends by creating direct-to-patient technology to help them remain independent and healthy," Tempesco told InformationWeek. "The benefits of this technology trend will not be realized until the data collected by these innovations can be incorporated in a meaningful way into the electronic health record to advance both preventive and predictive health interactions. The trick will be, with so much data, how can we cut through the noise to provide meaningful results to providers in order to meet the triple aim of cost reduction, improved quality, and patient satisfaction?"
CIOs and their teams should keep some other big-picture changes in mind as they consider new IT initiatives and discuss departments' plans. Organizations with a culture of open communication and a foundation of transparency and cooperation are best equipped to leverage the right technologies at the right time to help peers meet these, and other, challenges in the year ahead.