Health IT in 2016: Where are we headed?
By Betsy Jones, EBSCO
Health IT took some big steps forward in 2015, as more mobile and cloud platforms came online, providing easier access to patient records and clinical support resources. The health data interoperability discussion significantly advanced this year as well, with the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT unveiling its 10-year interoperability roadmap.
While it might take a decade to achieve the deep health data interoperability the ONC envisions, healthcare already enjoyed some early benefits in 2015, as physicians and caregivers began pulling patient information from wearables, phones and other electronics to provide them with real-time analysis of their patients’ conditions.
With 2016 just around the corner, our trend-spotting physician editors and researchers have come up with five predictions for what they see happening in 2016:
1. Physician practice consolidation will bring greater access to content: Hospitals and health systems are buying up more privately owned practices than ever, it seems, to fulfill ACO participation goals. While some in healthcare aren’t sure this consolidation is positive, there is a silver lining: Physicians typically gain access to more sophisticated EHRs, including a subscription to integrated clinical content that enables more accurate, efficient patient care.
2. Evidence-based quality standards will continue to gain traction: Practices are tasked with improving care in order to share in incentives in new payment models. We predict that evidence-based quality measures will gain traction in the healthcare as payers and providers alike look for ways to improve the health of their patients, especially those with chronic diseases.
3. There will be an increase in the amount of Certified Medical Assistants: Meaningful Use Stage 2 states that only credentialed medical assistants are permitted to do order entry for electronic patient records; CMAs will take on entering more documentation and providing physicians with reference information to determine care plans. It’s more critical than ever that the industry include CMAs as part of the clinical team accessing valuable clinical information and decision support tools.
4. Physicians will work to consistently assess and consider patient risk: In order to reduce healthcare costs, physicians will aim to consistently use overall risk prediction and absolute risk estimates for individual patients to guide decision-making. They should forego the practice of chasing and treating for lab test values without considering the overall absolute risk to the patient.
5. Patient-Physician Communication will improve: Now more than ever, patients are expected to take on more responsibility for their care, both in co-pays and care decisions. To facilitate more patient engagement, providers will have to better explain diagnoses—what they know and what they don’t—along with treatment options, to help patients participate in this shared decision-making process.
As technology continues to be adopted into the world of healthcare, physicians, hospital executives and decision makers will find novel applications of these new software tools to improve care. The already fast-paced world of healthcare will find new efficiencies brought on by technology, enhancing patient care by providing physicians with quick access to the information and resources they need at the point of care.
Betsy Jones is vice
president of medical product management and chief content officer, EBSCO Health