Less than 10 years ago, we lived in a world before the iPhone. It’s hard to believe when you look at how engrained the technology is in our lives today. We use it for everything: tracking steps, looking up directions, listening to music, staying connected with friends and family, taking pictures, paying bills, depositing checks… and now visiting the doctor? With new improvements to telemedicine, virtual doctor appointments via smartphone may be the next new norm. And that’s not the only way technology is changing the way we deliver care.
Here are the top four ways I expect technology will impact healthcare as we continue to move forward in 2016:
Care Anywhere, Anytime
As payments shift to value-based models, providers explore expansion into lower-cost care settings. In addition to acquiring or affiliating with community hospitals, some providers are pursuing non-traditional strategies, such as partnering with retail clinics and building virtual care centers that use digital health and virtual technology to monitor and treat patients.
Connected Health Takes Hold
For consumers, health is all about getting care when and where it is convenient. What started with simple activity trackers has rapidly expanded into a market of sophisticated ‘connected health’ devices. Take for example, ECG devices which monitor a patient’s vitals via smartphone and forward the results directly to their physician; or digital health companies that help people reduce their risk for chronic conditions by delivering behavior change therapies via laptop, tablet or smartphone. Expect to see the introduction of several new consumer health technologies throughout 2016.
Cybersecurity Concerns Remain Top of Mind
2015 saw the first medical device that was vulnerable to hacking – an infusion pump that could be modified to deliver a potentially fatal dose of medication. As breaches become more common and costly, healthcare companies and the government will need to be more proactive with data security, network architecture and design, and the creation of firewalls and separation of networks away from other medical data.
The Evolution to Interoperability
Now more than ever, being able to track the patient’s progress and status throughout the care continuum is critical. Especially as more and more providers adopt a team-based care approach. While electronic health records (EHR) record in-person interactions they often lack the ability to speak to other devices that track care plans, monitor progress between and during patient visits, and speak to other EHRs. Enter open source application program interfaces (APIs), which support the secure transfer of information between and among different healthcare technology platforms. There will be a push for broader, governmental action to promote consistent, national interoperability standards, including the use of APIs in 2016.
The healthcare industry has often been slow to adopt new technology, and interoperability has often been to blame. However, I think 2016 will be a big year with many new advancements that will directly impact and improve care delivery. If you are interested in learning more about what healthcare trends to expect in 2016, click here.