17 trends in health IT today: innovation, EHRs, revenue cycle and more

Hospital CIOs, innovators and technology leaders remain focused on supporting patient care with technology and creating a better patient experience.

At the Becker's 5th Annual Health IT + Revenue Cycle Conference in Chicago, Oct. 9 to 12, more than 315 speakers and thousands of attendees convened to discuss the big challenges and trends in healthcare today. Here are 17 key takeaways from the event.

Innovation:

1. Innovation doesn't necessarily require technology. Promote creativity in healthcare by creating competition, bringing in speakers and launching events for both employees and community members, such as hackathons.

2. Patients demand a more streamlined healthcare experience and technology can help health systems get there. Amazon, Walmart, Google and others getting into healthcare will be interesting in the next few years.

3. Data integrity is important but also the single biggest obstacle to achieving return on investment. Hospital executives need analytics to deliver change, not just monitor what's going on.

EHRs:

4. Voice transcription technology is the future, which will allow physicians to interact with the patients one-on-one and the documentation automatically occurs in the background.

5. When rolling out new IT it's important to explain the reasoning behind a new implementation and ask for clinician input. When physicians feel like they are a cog in the wheel of implementation, they will resist.

6. It remains a challenge to access medical records from outside the patient's health system. CIOs are looking for ways to teach patients to safely handle their health data.

Revenue Cycle:

7. Price transparency is increasingly important for patients today. Hospitals need to make it simple for patients to pay through a personalized payment experience.

8. The technology exists to streamline the revenue cycle, but regulations are a big roadblock to implementing those technologies.

9. There is a need for more collaboration between revenue cycle leaders and IT departments to drive innovation. There are so many technologies that can help the revenue cycle that need IT support.

10. Patient collection strategy is top-of-mind for many revenue cycle and financial leaders. Patients expect a seamless billing process. One new trend is risk management for potential negative press due to aggressive collections; in some cases, health systems are updating their collection policies.

Blockchain:

11. Healthcare leaders can look at the financial, retail and gaming industry to gain ideas of how to implement blockchain. Walmart is using it for supply chain and has been successful. By watching what these companies do, hospitals and health systems can come up with ways to incorporate blockchain.

12. Blockchain has the potential to really change physician credentialing. This is a really tedious tasks that could be simplified with blockchain.

13. While blockchain isn't a magic wand, it does have substantial use cases. For example, the technology can reduce the time it takes to complete transactions to a matter of minutes or seconds.

Artificial Intelligence:

14. AI seems scary and unknown and as if it's going to steal physicians' jobs, but in reality it is just a great tool for augmenting human decision-making.

15. When seeking executive buy-in for AI projects, play up the ROI and the "why" of the actual solution.

16. Some of the biggest challenges for healthcare organizations looking to implement AI include determining the provenance of all data used and changing data governance structures to account for new uses; figuring out how to deploy it consistently across the many segmented parts of the healthcare system; and determining/defining what "success" means for AI.

17. Artificial intelligence won't replace physicians; instead, it arms clinicians with another tool to provide better care. In billing, AI can automate processes and create opportunities for employees to move one step up in their technical knowledge and abilities.

Becker's Hospital Review writers Andrea Park, Mackenzie Garrity and Maia Anderson contributed to this article.

Don't miss Becker's 3rd Annual Health IT + Clinical Leadership + Pharmacy Conference, May 19-21 in Chicago. Click here to learn more and register.

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