Top five healthcare IT trends for 2017

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In the past year we have seen the development of some major technological innovations. From automotive to software, every industry has been touched by the rise in disruptive technology changing the way we live and do business.

Healthcare is no exception. Technology adoption in the healthcare sphere may not have seen the same rapid adoption rate as other industries, but it is catching up and catching up fast.

At the center of the critical juncture of healthcare and technology is the patient. Implementing modern healthcare IT tools and practices allows healthcare providers to not only improve their bottom line but provide higher level, more personalized care for their patients. By embracing newer and more modern technology, health care providers can streamline processes, have better data on their patients and provide an overall better patient experience.

Healthcare providers face a wealth of challenges from reimbursement challenges to keeping track of patient records as they visit multiple health facilities while ensuring regulatory compliance through it all. Technology innovation has grown and developed to help providers meet those challenges without sacrificing patient care or their own resources. Below are the top five trends to look for in healthcare IT that will likely dominate 2017.

Improving data collection
When it comes to collecting patient data, at the top of every provider’s mind is remaining compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). When it comes to collecting this data on an enterprise level, the risk of violation is terrifying. However, technological advancements in this areas have given us the right tools with benefits to outway and mitigate that risk.

By collecting information using digital forms, providers are likely have more accurate collection than from handwritten forms. When a form is handwritten, it is usually necessary to transcribe into an online form anyways, which can lead to transcription errors and opens up potential HIPAA compliance issues. When using online forms for data collection, built in verification features ensure inaccurate or incomplete information won’t be accepted. Maintaining a high accuracy in data collection will save time, money and, potentially, patient health.

Better use of cloud technology
As investment in other healthcare IT accelerates, so will use of cloud based technology. According to a recent HIMSS Analytics Survey, over 83 percent of healthcare organizations are already using cloud technology, a number only expected to grow. In fact, another study by MarketsandMarkets expects healthcare cloud computing to grow to $9.48 billion by 2020. As different types of technology are brought on within healthcare organizations, the cloud will be the easiest way to connect them and bridge any gaps. As healthcare providers and administrators require greater access and at the same time, greater security, the use of the cloud will be become critical, allowing access to email, data and other resources from any device at any time.

More accessible health care records
Patients and their physicians need access to their health forms and personal medical records quickly and efficiently, a demand that will only increase in the coming year. Allowing that level of access can mean improvements in care and patient outcomes. Adopting technology such as digital data collection platforms gives patients a way to review and update their information from their personal mobile devices or desktop. Even that level of involvement can make the patient feel more engaged in their own health and health plan. Equally important, physicians can also evaluate a patient’s progress without waiting for manual data entries. Quicker and more accurate information leads to quicker and more accurate treatment decisions.

Increased need for cybersecurity measures
No industry is immune to cyber attacks. As hackers and cybercriminals grow more skilled, and more healthcare institutions are moving towards more healthcare IT, the need for cyber security measures has never been greater. Healthcare records are a very attractive target. Bloomberg reported that cyber attacks against hospitals has more than doubled in the last five years. In the coming year, hospitals must treat cybersecurity measures as a major part of their existing governance, risk management and business continuity framework. These measures must also be, according the AHA, flexible and resilient enough to address threats that are likely to be constantly evolving and multi-pronged.

More streamlined processes
As the above trends grow throughout the year, they will require more streamlined processes, something healthcare IT can provide in spades. Collecting and keeping safe the huge amounts of data required in healthcare can slow down every part of the patient journey. However, IT solutions are available to automate day-to-day processes, keeping information moving securely while freeing up personnel to focus on high-quality patient care. The truth is, as stated in Accenture Digital Health Technology Vision 2016, “using technology in the health arena is “…not about replacing people; it’s about allowing people to work more efficiently, and where they are needed most.”

The overarching trend in healthcare technology is progress. We work hard to implement the tools necessary to bring our patients the highest level of care possible. And, in many ways, implementing healthcare IT tools is one of the best ways to progress towards that goal. Our industry needs to continue to adopt and innovate, setting up for future success.

Author bio
Chris Byers is the CEO of Formstack, an Indianapolis-based company offering an online form and data-collection platform. Prior to Formstack, Byers co-founded an international nonprofit that was built via remote relationships among partners in Europe, Africa, and the United States.


The views, opinions and positions expressed within these guest posts are those of the author alone and do not represent those of Becker's Hospital Review/Becker's Healthcare. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. We accept no liability for any errors, omissions or representations. The copyright of this content belongs to the author and any liability with regards to infringement of intellectual property rights remains with them.

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