3 observations on health IT & patient expectations

Health IT is a vast field awash with myriad options. Healthcare organizations are tasked with finding the right solutions at the right cost to solve some of their most pressing problems: interoperability, population health and revenue cycle management, to name just a few. While IT may seem to be an internal infrastructure issue, it directly affects patients. And, these consumers now have definite expectations when it comes to technology and their healthcare experience.

David Dimond, CTO of global healthcare at cloud computing, IT security and data storage company EMC, has been in the IT field since 1990. Throughout his career, Mr. Dimond has watched more than two decades' worth of health IT evolution. Here, he offers three observations on what today's patients want from health IT and what healthcare providers are doing to meet those expectations.

1. Patient expectations are generational. Many millennials take umbrage when accused of being glued to their phones, but by and large it is true this generation wants to use their devices when it comes to healthcare. They are more likely to try out emerging digital health services, like telemedicine, and want to be armed with the technology necessary to shop for their care. "Millennials are focused on convenience," says Mr. Dimond. Elderly patients, falling into the category typically known as the silent generation, are nowhere near as invested in being connected to IT,  rather setting stock in the traditional "white coat doctor" and the quality of care those providers offer, according to Mr. Dimond. The baby boomers and gen Xers fall somewhere in between. They have more tech savvy than their parents and grandparents, respectively, but convenience isn't everything for them.

2. Healthcare providers are still figuring out how to meet expectations. Government mandates, like the meaningful use program, and industry-wide initiatives, like interoperability, are driving healthcare providers toward the digitization of healthcare and betterment of health IT for the patient's benefit. But, many providers are still at sea when it comes to accomplishing the next step.

Patients are well aware of the amount of data being generated and stored, and they want healthcare providers to have a firm grasp on that information and use it for a personalized care experience. "The greatest challenge health IT leaders have is coping with the excess of data," says Mr. Dimond. "They know it has value, but there is so much of it." Predictive analytics is just becoming a key healthcare strategy. Mastering how to use big data to understand large populations, manage chronic conditions, drive down readmissions and more is still a work in progress.

3. BYOD is on the rise. The bulk of data influx may be coming from in-person encounters today, but Mr. Dimond expects patient-generated data to only grow. As more and more consumers adopt wearables and healthcare providers create remote patient monitoring programs, a mountain of health data will be generated outside the brick and mortar of healthcare organizations. "Patients are going to expect to bring their own data to healthcare providers. When they present it in the clinical setting, there will be the expectations that providers have a longitudinal view of their health history," Mr. Dimond says. "They will want to take any new data generated during the visit to go." That is the essence of consumerism.

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