Thursday, January 7, 2016

2016 HIT Trends: Consensus Predictions

The first post in this series was an overview of the 2016 Health IT Trends project (including the list of sources). This article summarizes and condenses the 81 individual predictions into a top 10 list of meta-predictions for 2016.
I have listed them (approximately) in order from most frequently predicted to least.
  1. The role of IT (and therefore also the role of CIO) will shift starting in 2016. Maintaining and improving core infrastructure and legacy systems will remain important, but IT will also need to step up its development efforts using customer-focused, agile techniques to meet the requirements of the rapidly evolving business environment.
  2. Major changes in provider and payer organizations -- including mergers, acquisitions, divestitures, and partnerships -- will favor organizations that are poised to capitalize on new models of reimbursement. Government may block or regulate some of these activities to ensure a competitive environment.
  3. Where market forces and self-policing by industry fail to keep costs and quality in line, government will step in to enact reforms. Drug costs, lab developed tests, mobile apps, and medical necessity are among the candidates for regulation.
  4. Security threats will continue to be a top priority for IT departments. New techniques and best practices will become more widespread to help reduce some threats.
  5. Interoperability is perennially on the list of areas needing improvement. In 2016 vendors and IT departments must make significant advances or face government intervention. Meaningful Use Stages 1 and 2 helped migrate a majority of medical records form paper to electronic format and established an interoperability baseline. To build on this momentum data needs to flow freely among systems.
  6. Simple patient care activities that have historically taken place in the primary care provider's office will occur in other settings, notably retail locations (such as pharmacies) and remotely via telemedicine. 
  7. Mobile apps, wearables, and the Internet of Things (IoT) will enhance and automate remote management of patients with chronic conditions. The same technologies will also help healthy patients maintain good health and watch for early warning signs of medical problems that they can electronically transmit to their care providers (patient generated data). Exactly how clinicians will use consumer device data and whether the government will regulate it are still open questions.
  8. Population Health will move from a buzzword to actual practice. Precision Medicine -- which takes into account each patient's unique social and genomic determinants of health -- will emerge as the new cutting edge for healthcare providers to proactively render care.
  9. Employers and other purchasers of healthcare insurance will begin to scrutinize costs, demanding more predictability and transparency. 
  10. The healthcare system will require a different set of tools as its focus shifts from treating ill patients to maintaining healthy populations. Analytics, care coordination systems and secure communication tools will gain prominence, and the primacy of the EHR/EMR will decline.
Future installments in this series will examine these consensus predictions in more detail with an eye toward tracking what's happening today, where the trends may lead by the end of 2016, and which prognosticators made the most accurate predictions.

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