I present to you my list of the Top 7 Trends in Healthcare Technology based on my personal experience on the field. I predict that these trends will be a driving force behind the innovation in healthcare technology for the foreseeable future. The higher rankings implies the level of innovation needed to drive this technology.
7. Strategic Optimization
There’s no doubt that the EMR industry is starting to plateau. A 2011 HIMSS Survey noted that 90% of hospitals have adopted an EMR while a CDC survey that same year reported 55% of physicians are using an EMR, up from 42% in 2009. By now, I would imagine that rate of adoption for hospitals is closer to 100%.
The reason for the rapid adoption of EMR comes as no surprise as the government enacted the HITECH Act in 2009 to pump over $25 Billion into the EMR market. The unintended consequence resulted in a gold rush where many healthcare providers haphazardly implemented their EMR systems in order to qualify for funding. For people familiar with product development, they would equate this to a Minimum Viable Product (MVP). Here is a nice definition from Wikipedia:
An MVP is not a minimal product, it is a strategy and process directed toward making and selling a product to customers. It is an iterative process of idea generation, prototyping, presentation, data collection, analysis and learning. One seeks to minimize the total time spent on an iteration. The process is iterated until a desirable product-market fit is obtained, or until the product is deemed to be non-viable.
As it relates to EMRs, most hospitals have deployed or in the process of deploying their MVP. The trend is that it’s only a matter of time before they need to iterate and optimize the product for it to work at full efficiency.
6. Business Intelligence/Database Warehousing = Accountable Care
The previous trend described how hospitals were narrowly focused on getting their EMR “Up and Running” versus using it effectively. Another unintended consequence to this madness is a frequent phenomenon I’ve encountered with my clients. Clients are now inputting massive amounts of information in a relatively new EMR system with no strategy on how to retrieve it. Now they’ve come to a quick realization that EMR vendors are not Business Intelligence vendors! Most of the reports coming from EMR systems focus on OPERATIONAL Reporting, and not what I called Strategic Reporting. As a result, operations are moving along fine but high level managers and executives don’t know how to steer the ship.
The trend now is that CIO’s are wising up and investing heavily on BI/datawarehousing technology. With an Enterprise Database Warehouse model, they can incorporate information from Cost Accounting Systems, HR systems, and even other EMR’s. The resulting product allows the Executive team not only on how to steer the ship, but also plot where they’ll be going next. In addition, new government initiatives such as Value-based Purchasing and Accountable Care Organization model relies heavily on BI/datawarehousing and would be impossible without it.
5. Telemedicine Integration
Yesterday, I witnessed first-hand the potential power of telemedicine as I met with the Vice-President of Engineering from HealthSpot. Their basic model centers around these “Pods” you can deploy inside hospitals, Walgreens, even your workplace. The Pods would have devices inside just like a normal nurse station, blood pressure cuffs, weighing scale, ear thermometer. The patient will then have a video conference with a doctor who controls the Pod remotely to administer care. This all looks great because ER departments can save money by using a Pod as an Urgent care site, doctors can augment their revenue by working from home, and patients can access these Pods more conveniently if it’s located in a local pharmacy like Walgreens.
However, my meeting with the VP quickly evolved into a dire realization that the information needs to be relayed back and forth from EMR systems. This integration challenge needs to be addressed as the benefits from telemedicine is no doubt a reality. Physicians using these HealthSpot stations would like to access only one system as opposed to accessing that and the EMR to retrieve information.
This concludes the first part of my Top 7 Trends in Healthcare Technology, Stay tuned for the my next 4 Trends!