We were in Vegas all of last week for HiMMS (Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society), one of the most influential annual conferences in the healthcare industry. All of the health information technology sector congregated in one meeting with more than 45,000 attendees.
Because so much is housed in one giant conference, HiMSS was a good opportunity to observe important IT trends in healthcare which has been infamously far behind in technological sophistication.
Big Data Could Change Healthcare Dramatically
Healthcare providers and systems are looking to provide healthcare throughout patients’ lives, beyond the four walls of the hospital. This calls for a higher level of technological acuity.
HiMSS featured a number of big data analytics shops, most prominently IBM Watson, the artificial intelligence system (AIS). Watson’s platform can fill out health records, improve the quality and consistency of diagnosis and treatment, and even help prevent disease by sifting through medical data to identify patients who might need critical care by using algorithms that predict who is at highest risk.
The growth and market for AIS signify the advance of consolidated health systems to move toward population health.
Health Tech Is Increasing Interoperability
Medical staff and patients interact with technology in their everyday lives. It is woven into the fabric of their interpersonal communications, and they know what is possible. Because of this, they’re losing patience with disconnected experiences. As a result, there is still the need for digital health technologies to be increasingly based upon user-centered design principles with interoperability rolled in.
We saw this in HiMSS, with well-known consumer brands like Verizon and AT&T offering a whole new suite of products for providers to improve customer experience. On the other hand, while we’re taking some strides in the consumerization of healthcare, there are too many “apps for that.” Yes, they’re obviously transforming patient monitoring and engagement, but they can quickly become data silos. This is the same data an AIS will need to alleviate some of healthcare’s woes.
There needs to be a degree of consolidation and for the flow of the data to be bidirectional and integrated with software that charts patient journeys.
Providers Want Contingency Plans
This one is obvious, but in 2018 critical infrastructure will be tested by cyberattacks and severe weather. We can expect to see more cyberattacks from nation-state adversaries. There will also be a cascade of failures. Vendors see the biggest challenge as establishing policy and legal protections for cyber resources and assistance mechanisms.
Likewise, we’ve already had and currently are experiencing more severe weather patterns. Emergency preparedness and response will once again be put to the test with expected challenges being intelligence and information sharing with effective direct channels and effective two-way partnerships; establishing and maintaining unified coordination and command with multiple law enforcement agencies.