Technology is quickly changing the practice and culture of Healthcare, and not just in the way consumers interact with their Providers. On this page, we’ll look at some of the latest emerging technologies in healthcare that are trending in the second half of 2015. Keeping with the overall purpose of this site, I like to focus on issues affecting Healthcare IT staff below the executive level.
Healthcare Data Analytics
With the advent of Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs)- Healthcare providers, insurance companies, patients, and employers are entering into agreements to provide care for a defined population over a period of time, with financial incentives awarded by the healthy outcomes of the patients. This will require greater commitment to advanced data analysis. Population Health programs from vendors Epic, eClinicalWorks, and Cerner will provide opportunities in Healthcare IT departments, and will affect how Nurse Managers coordinate care to their patient populations.
Big Data In Healthcare
Relating to population health is the ability to analyze and manage large sets of data to provide better outcomes and (hopefully) lower the cost of care. Healthcare organizations are focusing more on data warehousing, and the use of advanced clinical reporting solutions for those who manage large populations of patients.
What that means for those of us in the technical roles is more opportunity building complex back-end solutions that leverage the use of less complex front-end reporting tools.
Leaving the Big Data discussion, on to a couple of more trends to watch:
Patient Engagement Solutions
As Healthcare Technology matures, patients are taking advantage of social and web-based tools to assist in their care. A specific trend that is starting to catch on is the integration of devices such as the Fitbit- with Electronic Medical Records (EMR) systems at physician’s offices. One of the better known is examples is where patients download readings from their Fitbit to their Epic MyChart account. MyChart is the most popular patient portal in the country. That data is then posted to the patients’ official medical record.
Hype Alert: Word has it that many physicians don’t really care about seeing data from patient-entered fitness devices. Time will tell if this technology levels out to provide real usefulness.
Healthcare IT Job Outlook
Some Healthcare organizations are entering an optimization phase in which they must maximize the use of systems that have been installed for several years now. Also, the bill for those expensive systems is hitting the books, causing them to look for places to save money. In exchange, Healthcare systems may work to cut or outsource positions that support legacy applications, and possibly first level Help Desk support.
Cerner DoD Contract
At the end of this July, the Department of Defense and the VA announced that Cerner had won a multi-Billion dollar contract to implement electronic health records for military health facilities nationwide. This is expected to create an increased demand for Healthcare IT workers at all levels. There will be a pull from non-military organizations, but probably not as dramatic if the decision had gone to Epic, as many had predicted. (More on the Cerner DoD decision)