The top 5 IT trends dominating healthcare
By Ryan VanDePutte
From wearables and 3D printing of bones and vessels, to artificial intelligent assistants and digital diagnoses, healthcare technology is constantly advancing and evolving. Let’s take a look at the top five IT trends healthcare organizations are facing:
While telehealth — the distribution of health services and information through technology — has been around for decades, it has rapidly grown a lot over the last few years, with Mordor Intelligence reporting it should be worth more than $66 billion by 2021.
Many healthcare organizations are turning to telehealth (also known as telemedicine) to help provide their patients will better real-time care, especially in remote areas. Telehealth involves physicians leveraging technology to allow patients to access their services anywhere, anytime. This includes applications (apps) that both physicians and patients use to track, monitor, and report health vitals, information, and concerns across a variety of mobile-enabled devices.
This form of virtual healthcare reduces patient barriers like travel time and cost and improves overall satisfaction with no wait times and better remote monitoring. For physicians, telehealth improves clinical workflows, increases practice efficiency, and reduces overhead costs.
The Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) is the mesh of IoT development with telehealth technology, combining medical devices and applications through computer networks. This newly emerged approach includes the use of the increasingly popular wearables, like smartwatches and fitness trackers, EKG and ECG monitors, remote patient monitoring devices, and more.
IoMT greatly improves remote patient monitoring and the treatment of chronic diseases, as patients can now take advantage of virtual health checkups. Physicians can get better real-time insights into their patients’ vitals, allowing them to deliver better long-term health solutions.
Healthcare organizations are also starting to use an event-driven approach to help respond to patient generated data in real-time, by analyzing information being sent from IoT devices and alerting the appropriate staff when an action is needed.
According to a recent Frost and Sullivan report, there will be 20-30 billion medical IoT devices in circulation by the end of 2020. By 2021, the entire IoMT market is predicted to be worth as much as $136 billion.
Artificial intelligence (AI) in healthcare is becoming increasingly popular, with healthcare organizations adopting AI machines to process information and provide decision-making data to improve the speed and accuracy of the diagnosis.
AI is also bringing predictive care to the healthcare industry, as it can support predicting the probability of a health condition occurring by monitoring and analyzing patient information. IoMT devices like wearables and monitoring devices will give AI machines more data to analyze, growing the ecosystem of digital health supports available to the industry.
This means physicians can be more proactive with their care, rather than having to wait until after patients get sick. For example, Augusta Health has saved 282 lives with an AI-infused sepsis early warning system! Staff run an automated process that collects information from their bed system and clinical data from the EHR (electronic health record) which is then compiled, analyzed, and given a score by the AI-infused system. This occurs every hour and an alert is sent directly to the care team on staff for patients who receive a concerning high score.
4. Cloud computing
Finding the best way to build, run, and maintain a system for data and record-keeping is a common challenge across all industries, but especially within healthcare. Cloud computing — using the internet to deliver and store services, also known as cloud-based solutions — has become an increasingly popular choice for many healthcare organizations.
When it comes to cloud-computing, HIPAA compliance is always top of mind for healthcare organizations. There are a variety of public, private, and hybrid cloud-based platforms available, with many specifically catering to meet HIPAA requirements and protect health information. Public systems give access to a wide range of generic health information sources, private systems can be used for more sensitive information, and hybrid systems combine both.
By using cloud-based solutions, physicians and patients both get better access to records and information, making the consultation process more convenient, smooth, and efficient. Cloud-computing also makes collaboration easier and more possible. Members of a care team can view and share information across a secure system.
Blockchain — a record-keeping technology used to record information across a system of computers — is being talked about as the next big thing to impact multiple industries. Within healthcare specifically, the race to adopt blockchain has begun.
Blockchain allows healthcare organizations to foster a combination of security, accessibility, and interoperability. As a way of automating the safe passing of information from point A to point B, it can replace all processes that rely on transaction fees. For example, a common pain point healthcare practitioners face is linking health records and transactions of patients with their different “identities” across the various healthcare organizations they access.
A blockchain approach allows all of a single patient’s records to be shared among licensed providers from one single source of truth, while also keeping sensitive patient information safely secured, meeting HIPAA requirements and only allowing data to be decrypted with a private key.
Blockchain has become increasingly appealing within healthcare because of its decentralized nature, its transparency for tracing data, and it’s immutability for protecting the data within.
Innovative advances in technology will continue to drive digital transformation in healthcare, offering ways to improve patient care, streamline operations, improve efficiencies, and meet increasing industry demands.
About the author
As an Associate Director, Ryan is responsible for managing and executing the full delivery and implementation of custom Appian solutions for Bits In Glass’ clients. He has nearly a decade of experience providing project and portfolio management as well as strategic guidance and advisory services for some of the nation’s largest healthcare companies. When he’s not hard at work, Ryan enjoys golfing, working out, grilling, and spending time outdoors with his wife and two boys.