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healthcare, healthcare IT, HIT, wearables, digital health

By Nathan Schnell

4 Healthcare IT Trends to Watch in 2018

4 Healthcare IT Trends to Watch in 2018

As we head full steam into another year sure to be full of change for healthcare, we thought we’d offer a roundup of healthcare IT trends predicted for 2018 by health IT writers, editors and analysts. Ready? Here we go…

Artificial Intelligence

While artificial intelligence (AI) is currently used to automate simple tasks, 2018 is predicted to be the year where it will make its way into clinical support and decision making. Currently many healthcare organizations already use AI for clinical decision support, population health, disease management, readmission and claims processing. But experts believe 2018 will be the year AI will make inroads into cancer diagnostics, pathology and image recognition, according to a recent SearchHealthIT article.

Health Data Management predicts that by 2021, 20 percent of healthcare and 40 percent of life science organizations will have recognized a 15 to 20 percent in productivity gains by adopting AI technology, noting that adoption resides mostly in large academic medical centers at present. Industry analyst Forrester predicts that AI as well as the Internet of Things (IoT) will be part of the disruption of siloed healthcare ecosystems in 2018.

Digital Health

According to seed fund Rock Health, a record-breaking $3.5 billion was invested in 188 digital health companies in the first half of 2017, with the number of wearables is set to hit 34 million by 2022.

Digital health has been gaining momentum for many years with the wearable trend. According to a Forbes article, the most frequent users of wearables are the least likely to be hospitalized.

Additionally, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently issued new guidelines that loosen regulations for some mobile health technologies, recognizing that clinical evidence supports better health outcomes with mobile device usage. This change will likely encourage healthcare organizations to better embrace the integration of consumer digital health device data.

Telehealth and telemedicine are predicted to grow as more states update laws to expand access to these services. With one in five U.S. adults suffering from mental illness, a noteworthy predicted area of expansion is telemental and telebehavioral health services, according an article by SearchHealthIT.

Blockchain

The promise of blockchain, the technology invented to power Bitcoin, has been around since 2008. However, this year may be the year its value starts to be recognized and leveraged within healthcare. HealthDataManagement predicts that by 2020, 20 percent of healthcare organizations will be using blockchain for operations management and patient identity.

However, as noted by SearchHealthIT, blockchain has “yet to prove itself in the demanding crucible of health IT systems and clinical healthcare settings,” but notes that “IBM, Intel, Google, Microsoft  and others have units dedicated to development of blockchain products, including for healthcare.” Federal health IT officials are promoting it heavily as well.

Electronic Health Record Analytics

To be successful, EHRs will need to move into providing analytics that support population health initiatives and value-based healthcare – and many predict 2018 will be the year where headway will be made by EHRs in analytics. The big players like Cerner and Epic already have population health products and other smaller vendors like cloud-based AthenaHealth do as well. More are predicted to join and more healthcare organizations will likely take advantage of these products.

Nathan Schnell is Vice President of Service Delivery at Intellimed. 

By Shelly Cutrer

The Role of Claims Data in Evolving Telehealth in Healthcare

In a 2017 study published by Health Affairs, commercial claims data on over 300,000 patients from three years (2011-2013) was analyzed to explore patterns of utilization and spending for acute respiratory illnesses.

The study found that while direct-to-consumer telehealth may increase access by making care more available and convenient, it may also increase utilization and healthcare spending.

According to the American Telehealth Association and AANAC Conference telemedicine offers these four primary benefits:

  • Improving Access: Telehealth brings care to patients in remote areas. It expands the reach for providers to offer care beyond their facilities.
  • Cost Efficiencies: Keeps costs down through better chronic disease management, shared healthcare staffing, reduced travel times and fewer/shorter hospital stays.
  • Improved Quality: Telehealth has come a long way and the quality of telehealth care often equals that on in-person care in many situations.
  • Answers Patients’ Need: Consumers like telemedicine, and it provides both access and answers when and where they need them.

Given these goals and the recent Health Affairs study showing telehealth may not actually reduce costs, how can claims data be of value in both improving access and lowering costs through telehealth?

Patient Outreach & Engagement: Claims data can be used to analyze utilization, physician patterns, geographic trends and more. This can be valuable in creating and informing patient outreach and engagement programs to encourage patients to take a more active role in their healthcare, including proper usage of telehealth programs. While patient engagement is still in its beginning stages, early evidence shows it has huge potential to lower the cost burden on the healthcare system.

Support Value-Based Healthcare: Regardless of what happens with healthcare legislation, the train has left the station when it comes to value-based care. Value-based care focuses on managing rising costs, reducing inefficiencies and redundancies in the system and rewarding providers and healthcare systems on quality over quantity. Claims data has great potential to be leveraged to inform when and where telehealth services should be utilized to support value-based care initiatives.

Big Data: Big data must not only include clinical data, but also claims data along with lab and other data to be truly meaningful for strategic decision making. As hospitals and healthcare systems become more and more advanced in data analytics, big data will be better positioned to inform the proper usage of telehealth to both achieve cost savings and improve access to care.

Given the aging population, physician shortages in many areas and the growing need to manage chronic diseases, telehealth has a lasting role to play in healthcare. However, utilizing it effectively to meet the goals for telehealth and the emerging value-based care environment will be critical and data – including claims data – will be needed.

At Intellimed, we offer claims data analytics solutions that can help inform strategic decisions for telehealth as well as many other areas. To learn more about our solutions or to schedule a demo, please contact us.

healthcare, healthcare IT, HIT, wearables, digital health
4 Healthcare IT Trends to Watch in 2018
The Role of Claims Data in Evolving Telehealth in Healthcare