The healthcare industry has always lagged many intensive adoptions of information technology (IT) advancements. However, the barrage of new and intensified government guidelines and regulations are dramatically influencing the type and volume of patient information that is retained and transmitted between healthcare entities. This has most health care providers scrambling to rapidly implement healthcare IT solutions to address such issues as Meaningful Use (MU), Electronic Health Records (EHR) management, and Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs).
Here are some of the top trends in healthcare IT today and their potential impact on the healthcare community in the future:
Digital Capture – The first step in improving the quality of care through IT is to digitally capture information so that it can later be analyzed and provided back to patients and healthcare providers. Digitizing information through Electronic Health Records (EHR) and Picture Archiving and Communication Solutions (PACS) turn critical information into electronic data eliminating huge amounts of paperwork and the need to manually file and retrieve images. Access and visibility of these records on demand eliminates the need for redundant tests like MRIs, CT scans, and x-rays. The result is quicker more efficient care.
Data Analytics – The second step is to analyze the real-time data. Many providers are turning to advanced analytics and business intelligence solutions to provide real-time, data-driven information for predictive modeling, value-based treatment protocols, and bundled payments to control quality and manage costs. The current trend is to make the data as user-friendly as possible by providing advanced graphical user interface capabilities. As the information within the healthcare community continues to amass with these new systems, the data will be used in the future to set premiums for participants, manage patient care, and expand clinical system knowledge, placing great demands on available healthcare IT infrastructure and storage capacity.
Mobile Solutions – By far the biggest trend in the healthcare industry is to mobilize the information. There is a move to mobile healthcare IT solutions for such issues as drug information support, patient monitoring, bar coding, and applications for consumer health. Many of the other major trends in the industry revolve around this key component, including the increasing use of smartphones and tablets in clinical settings. Healthcare IT providers and cellular network providers are beginning to partner to develop enterprise-wide solutions for the business, and the number of available applications continues to increase, especially for the consumer. As mobile devices in the field of health care expand in number and processing speed, innovative solutions will be needed meet the growing information demands of the clinician and consumer.