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Upcoming Trends in Healthcare IT for 2019

December 17, 2018

The implementation of electronic health records (EHRs) worldwide has made a massive difference in the way information is stored, shared, and utilized, yet the time to advance is once more upon us. In 2019, the world of healthcare should see a massive rise and shift in the use of artificial intelligence (AI), wearables (medical tracking devices akin to the Apple watch), telemedicine, augmented reality, and the introduction of consumerism to the market. Massive shifts should sweep the healthcare industry as corporations and individual practices succeed or fail in embracing these new technologies.

Healthcare Trends

Communication shifts in the narrative

EHRs have paved the way for easy and complete access to a patient’s medical history, yet according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), they are also in need of vast improvements. There is a current danger of bloating the EHRs with notes due to the formatting restrictions, so to streamline the documents and relieve clinicians and medical professionals of the present, exhaustive data-entry process, the HHS proposes the Cures Act whose primary goal is to “Improve the functionality and intuitiveness of EHRs.”

Along with these EHR improvements, many hospitals are opting to use AI as a means to input massive amounts of data and receive a diagnosis with far more accuracy and speed than could typically be expected from a regular doctor’s visit. Forbes alone estimates a “10-15% productivity gain” over the next several years via this implementation as AI will take over the monotonous streams of paperwork and scheduling usually handled by medical professionals, allowing them to use their training to visit more patients each day.

Some of these visits, however, will not be conducted in the age-old fashion of doctor’s appointments to the office or bedside. There is an increasing trend in the world of telemedicine that allows patients to video chat with a trained professional, perhaps show them the affected area, and receive a diagnosis all without having to leave their homes. Telemedicine is an extraordinary turn from the past narrative and is revolutionary for patients with chronic conditions that make it difficult for them to leave their house much less visit the doctor’s office multiple days of the month. It is efficient for both doctor and patient and provides a cost benefit as well.

Tools to revolutionize healthcare

For these patients with chronic conditions, too, there is an innovation which should allow the doctors to gain daily data without much effort on either side, and this comes in the form of wearables. Whether this is in the form of an app, an ECG, or a device such as the Apple Watch, these wearables allow for the gathering of data in a constant stream, 24/7. The devices should register factors such as heart rate, medicine consumption, energy levels, activity levels, etc. With access to such data, doctors (using the aid of AI) may be able to more evenly track patterns of behavior and find the cause of major medical events with far more efficiency than ever before.

Efficiency is critical in the medical field, particularly during emergency situations and the learning stages. Augmented reality, therefore, is an upcoming method for the use of doctors, surgeons, EMTs that should significantly improve the existing operations they undergo day by day. Augmented reality, with the aid of 3D technology, should allow these medical professionals to compare existing conditions with others on record as well as match up treatments, and to identify the specific areas in need of repair quickly. This even allows medical students or surgeons in training to see and “experience” operations in controlled environments, so they may learn to operate swiftly and efficiently with minimal excess damage when they enter the real operating room.

Consumerism levels the field

CEO of Wolters Kluwer Health, Diana Nole, addressed consumerism recently by saying, “patient care is not one-size-fits-all.” In essence, this means that the modern patient is far more aware of his or her options, and has access to a massive database of medical knowledge. The time is coming to an end when a clueless person will accept a two-minute diagnosis and surprise bills in the mail months later. The modern patient requires ready access to high-quality care and their personal medical information, all at a reasonable, clear price. Indeed, the larger corporations (Amazon, Walmart, etc.) are capitalizing on this by beginning to offer competitive pricing and transparency where traditional avenues have failed the modern market. These giants are sure to delve into the world of healthcare if traditional avenues fail to engage the current channels.

If 2018 was filled with the transferring of paper files to EHRs and learning new data-entry technologies, 2019 will comprise of fine-tuning these methods while hurrying on to more significant, more accessible technological advancements. Those who refuse to embrace this new era or who fail to adapt to the demands and methods will soon find themselves obsolete.