Health information technology continues to evolve at a rapid pace, and while it has traditionally ignored the needs of long-term/post-acute care (LTPAC) specifically, the times are changing. In fact, several new technology trends look promising for this field as the move to population health and value-based care places new demands and pressures on facilities and practitioners alike.
While it’s unlikely that every one of these trends will impact you and your practice within the next 12 months, it’s important to be aware of the health care technology landscape. Remaining on the cutting edge empowers you to navigate the questions, changes, and demands that may arrive in the LTPAC space.
Here are seven of the top 2020 healthcare IT trends we’re watching this year.
Telehealth platform services were already on their way to the mainstream, but with the COVD-19 pandemic taking root across the country, this technology is in high demand as our health care system works to tackle its current caseload and contain the spread of the disease. In fact, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently expanded access to Medicare’s telehealth services to help beneficiaries receive a broader range of services from their practitioners without having to leave their homes. In times of public health crisis, illness contagion, and travel restrictions, telemedicine a vital technology tool that practices nationwide need to be using.
Several types of artificial intelligence, including machine learning, chatbots and robotic process automation, are already used by both payors and providers today. However, we can expect their adoption rates to expand significantly, especially for diagnosis and treatment recommendations, patient adherence, and administrative activities.
5G, or fifth-generation cellular wireless, utilizes larger channels to increase connection speeds, responsiveness, and the number of devices that can use those channels at the time. When it comes to the clinical setting, 5G has the power to provide high-resolution, fast-streaming video, as well as support more and higher quality virtual reality experiences. Not to mention, 5G offerings are well on their way, so start budgeting for the costs of relevant software upgrades if you haven’t done so already.
A growing amount of patient data is stored on externally hosted platforms, or “in the cloud.” This data includes information collected via digital health devices, such as pills with sensors that track medication plan adherence and apps that guide medication treatments and lifestyle changes. While cloud storage services help consolidate information and keep it secure in the event of a disaster or crisis, the scale and speed of this data rush has inspired significant concerns about security. As we move forward in 2020 and beyond, we need to determine a holistic, coordinated approach that successfully addresses access and privacy.
The number of direct-to-consumer genetic testing providers is growing, and the range of health conditions and traits assessed by these tests has increased substantially in recent years. For instance, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has already cleared or approved 45 different human genetic tests and more than 100 nucleic acid-based tests for microbial pathogens. Moving forward, genomic medicine education and training will become increasingly common and, as additional research further reveals its benefits, the demand for it will increase as well.
Wearable technology isn’t just popular in the consumer market. Certain devices enable physicians to track the physical activity, treatment plan compliance and other important health information of their patients when they aren’t in the same room together. These insights prove highly valuable as they keep clinicians in the know, hold patients more accountable, and improve overall health outcomes. As this tech trend evolves, more manufacturers are improving wearables to be even easier to use and do an even better job of remote monitoring in order to receive a green checkmark from the FDA. In the future, FDA-approved devices will enable practitioners, their practices, and insurance payors to better obtain the information they need directly via health systems that are connected to the wearable devices of their patients.
Entertaining devices like Oculus likely come to mind first when we mention virtual reality, but this technology category has a variety of applications in health care as well, including training and support for professionals, patient education, robotic surgery, pain management, and physical therapy. While many of these applications are still in their nascent stages and it is yet to be determined how these technologies might be reimbursed, innovators are making big moves with them right now.
When it comes to your practice and the patients and facilities you serve, certain technological innovations will prove more critical than others. As mentioned earlier, telemedicine has never been more relevant and in-demand than it is today – in the LTPAC space and beyond. With that said, it’s important to keep an eye on all these healthcare technology trends as the landscape evolves so you can better forecast which ones will impact you and how soon. You can be proactive now and avoid scrambling to catch up later when health systems, providers, and patients ultimately expect or demand the use of these new technologies.
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