4 Trends Your Healthcare Technology Roadmap Must Account For

Although it’s impossible to predict the future of any industry, there are definitely some shifts in health IT that are worth watching, and these important trends are likely to affect your technology roadmap going forward.

Accounting for these events as you plan your healthcare technology roadmap could help you implement a system and strategy that’s more robust and scalable. Here are some trends to include:

1. MACRA

In recent years, shifting payment structures in healthcare from fee for service (volume-based payment) to value-based policies has been a top priority. Last year, Congress passed the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA). This act released the Medicare SGR methodology for updates to the physician fee schedule and replaced it with a new, Merit-based Incentive Payment Systems (MIPS) and an incentive program for participation in certain Alternative Payment Models (APMs).

While MACRA’s purpose is to set goals designed to improve care and health outcomes, this act also emphasizes the foundational role of health IT in achieving these critical objectives. As the federal government begins to implement MACRA, it is imperative that hospitals and health systems know and understand how this act will affect their IT plan.

2. Baby Boomers

Baby boomers have transformed this country throughout each stage of their lives. Aging is no exception. This is one of the largest events that a technology roadmap must accommodate, since about 44 million people in the U.S. are now 65 years or older, and the Census Bureau expects that figure to double by 2050. While the retirement and aging of baby boomers has an effect on senior care, the rapid aging of our population poses concerns for healthcare in general.

As people age, they become more susceptible to chronic conditions, which can accumulate over time. At the same time that our country is experiencing this rapid growth in the senior population, we are also experiencing a decline in the number of geriatricians, and the industry continues to struggle with recruiting primary care physicians.  This change is going to dramatically impact the way medicine is delivered. These evolving factors are going to require shifts in the way medicine is practiced. In addition to focusing on preventative care, providers will need to rely heavily on tools that can streamline workflows and free their time to focus on patients. Technology already is playing a critical component in this effort and will continue to grow in importance and affect the design and plan of hospital and health system technology roadmaps.

3. Patient Engagement

When given greater access to their health information, patients take ownership of their care and can make better decisions to improve their outcomes. No longer do patients need to wait to receive copies of their patient records. Now, they can instantly access them through patient portals. Furthermore, personal health monitoring devices have advanced light years beyond simple blood pressure cuffs, heart rate monitors and other devices that could be picked up in a local pharmacy. At this point, patients can track most anything affecting their health and wellbeing, from physical activity to sleep to exposure to sunlight, and can have anytime, anywhere access to their health data.

Physicians are still grappling with how to incorporate these patient driven sources of information into care. However, there remains no doubt that technology will continue to shift patient expectations, engagement and outcomes. This trend in patient engagement should not only be encouraged to improve health but also needs to be accounted for in planning future healthcare technology investments.

4. New and Emerging Technologies

Technology can be used for passive health monitoring that tracks functional health indicators, efficient recordkeeping that tracks wellness over time, and insight into the needs of each individual patient. Incorporating quality of care into a technology roadmap can put a hospital or health system ahead of competitors by improving patient care, cost and experience, as well as streamlining workflow. Anticipating new and emerging technologies will give health systems a proactive strategy instead of a reactive one.

Many health systems are hiring healthcare IT consultants who have studied these trends and are experts at helping implement new strategies and technologies as part of a roadmap. Events like these aren’t in the distant future. They’re coming up fast, and every healthcare technology roadmap should accommodate them in order to maximize resources while keeping costs under control.

What health IT trends do you forsee impacting your healthcare technology roadmap?

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