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5 Top Healthcare Technology Predictions for 2018

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Health Wizz has taken a look at the past year’s developments, notable changes and growing challenges and made some bold predictions for the year ahead. Here are the 5 Top Healthcare Technology predictions for 2018.

1. More hospitals will be hacked and held hostage for ransomware

In 2017, there were over 250 data breaches, compromising over 4.4 million individuals, as reported by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office for Civil Rights. In cases where ransomware is demanded, hospital data breaches can negatively affect the accuracy and timeliness of patient information available to providers, and hence greatly influence patients’ care outcomes. A hacking incident can disrupt hospital servers, making patient data unavailable to providers while the servers are being restored, with dire consequences. Unfortunately, high profile data security breaches promise to continue their streak in 2018, and the potential for further devastating hacks of medical devices make healthcare IT security a key issue in healthcare organizations.

2. Interoperability will continue to be a top issue 

The British Medical Journal recently reported that medical error is the third leading cause of death in the United States, after heart disease and cancer. Very often, “deaths by medical error” are caused by the persistence of data silos and lack of interoperability which, we believe, will be an increasing focus in 2018.

Significant progress on the interoperability front could be achieved through the implementation of Application Programing Interfaces (APIs) such as Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR). However, it remains unclear whether technology alone will be enough to overcome bad business practices to achieve true interoperability.

For decades, the abundance of proprietary protocols and interfaces that restrict healthcare data exchange have been entrenched in our healthcare system, along with tactics such as data blocking and hospital IT contracts that prevent data sharing. These may be harder to repeal than anything else known to healthcare.

3. Rise of consumer consciousness in healthcare

In 2018, consumers will increasingly turn to a variety of providers for their medical needs and will create their own health-management ecosystems to control where they access healthcare, from whom they access it, and what price they pay.

Smartphones, cloud computing, and global connectivity have created a universe of consumers accustomed to managing and accessing everything - from checking bank balances, making purchases, and watching movies - on mobile devices. These same consumers will expect health systems and organizations to provide similar innovative services.

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Newer, more secure, distributed digital upstarts emphasising speed and consumer experience will come to the rescue in 2018. Their solutions will center on collaboration among providers and consumers by enabling the secure and efficient exchange of health data—a vital step towards more efficient patient care delivery. 

4. Regulations

Regulations, compliance and value-based care and reimbursement policies will drive adoption of tools for chronic disease management and demand for advanced data and analytics capabilities.

Population Health Management and Clinicians in Accountable Care Organisations (ACOs) will turn to evidence-based decision making, and leverage expanded use of data and analytics to eliminate unnecessary utilisation and increase patient safety.

The promise of data analytics relies on progress on the interoperability front, in that data sources are readily accessible, complete and accurate, and can be easily integrated into standardised data sets on which sophisticated predictive modelling algorithms can be run.

State approvals will push Telehealth into the mainstream with expanded reimbursement policies, usage and outreach programs.

5. Adoption of blockchain in healthcare

With blockchain proving to be a robust decentralised platform that is poised to disrupt the financial world, digital healthcare start-ups will begin to leverage blockchain’s unique ability to put patients in control of their data. Given all the data breaches in healthcare, consumers will find it hard to trust any centralised entity with their health data, whether it is their clinical data, their genomic data, or data from their wearables.

Trustless and decentralised capabilities of blockchain will resonate with our ever-growing suspicion and scepticism of large centralised health data warehouses, which serve as honey pots for hackers and other bad actors.

If the consumer is spared from the complexity of understanding the workings of blockchain while fully benefiting from it, it will provide the missing pieces for an integrated and high-value marketplace of digital health records.

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