As we approach the end of 2016, it is important to prepare for technology challenges your practice may face and opportunities you may want to capitalize on in the new year.
Here are eight developments in healthcare technology to know about for 2017:
1. Security and compliance. While we do not know how the new presidency will affect federal healthcare regulations, one can safely assume that security and compliance will remain an area of focus. This past March, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR) launched its second phase of HIPAA audits of covered entities and their business associates. In October, OCR released new guidance on HIPAA and cloud computing. These and other recent developments indicate security and compliance are under close scrutiny. Practices should take compliance seriously.
They should also take the threat of cybercrime seriously. Cybercriminals are increasingly targeting healthcare providers because of the black market value of medical records and use of outdated security measures. Symantec's "2016 Internet Security Threat Report" noted that the largest number of data breaches in 2015 took place within health services, comprising 39 percent of all breaches last year. Ransomware — when cybercriminals use encryption to hold companies’ and individuals’ data hostage — increased 35 percent percent in 2015. There is no reason to believe cybercriminals will stop targeting providers.
2. Informatics. Informatics has been a buzzword for quite some time. What are its benefits informatics? While it's a few years old, the University of Illinois at Chicago spells this out in a detailed infographic. Key takeaways include dramatic reductions in malpractice claims after introducing EHRs, faster lab results when using EHRs, potential for significant cost savings, and improved quality of care.
Along with informatics, analytics remains in the spotlight thanks to its potential to deliver significant improvements in all aspects of a practice's operations by converting big data into actionable insights. Practices can expect to see more informatics and analytics solutions hit the market in 2017. It will be important to conduct due diligence before investing in an informatics and/or analytics solution.
3. mHealth. Mobile health (mHealth) is showing no signs of slowing down. A Pricewater Cooper Health Research Institute (PwC) survey revealed some insightful statistics about the use of mobile devices, including the following:
• Sixteen percent of consumers used at least one medical, healthcare or fitness app in 2013. That number doubled to 32 percent in 2015.
• 60 percent of consumers are willing to have a video visit with a physician through a mobile device (more on this later)
• 81 percent of clinicians say mobile access to medical information helps coordinate patient care
• 38 percent of clinicians use email to stay connected with their chronic disease patients.
It will not be surprising if all of these figures increase in 2016. Practices will want to examine how they can use mHealth to boost patient engagement and satisfaction to improve care delivery and help achieve a competitive edge over slower adopting providers.