Healthcare IT Trends and Challenges
Technology and digitization are disrupting every industry—and healthcare is no exception. In this time-critical industry, patient care needs to be efficient and convenient. This is increasingly evidenced by the rise of individualized healthcare via direct-to-consumer (D2C) and convenience care models such as telemedicine to find doctors, pay bills, schedule appointments, order prescription refills, receive consultations, and more.
This transition toward individualized healthcare has prompted the industry to start moving to new technologies like AI and machine learning to improve treatment methods and patient experiences while reducing costs. However, healthcare organizations still face obstacles such as complex legacy infrastructure investments, as well as regulatory compliance and security risks. Additionally, many practitioners still rely on outdated technologies (e.g., using pagers to notify on-call staff) that create process bottlenecks and hinder organizations from being as effective as possible.
In a nutshell, the healthcare IT industry is rife with both unprecedented opportunities and unique challenges. Here are some of the key trends that are shaping this space.
Trend 1: Healthcare Is Moving Toward Omnichannel
Healthcare consumers today demand fast, frictionless, convenient, and personalized experiences, driving increased competitiveness and digitization across the healthcare industry.
The ability to deliver healthcare tools and information to consumers so they can be more knowledgeable about their own health is just one aspect of the personalized healthcare experience. Easy accessibility and convenience will be a key differentiator for companies within the healthcare industry—according to Bright.md, 90% of patients feel no obligation to stay with a healthcare system that doesn’t offer digital tools.
Additionally, as indicated by the rising number of investments in remote patient monitoring (RPM) devices, telehealth platforms, public employee retirement systems (PERS), and mHealth applications, Forbes estimates that digital health tech spending for out-of-hospital settings will exceed $25 billion globally by the end of 2019, a growth rate of 30%.
These new business models empower consumers to make their own decisions and take control of their own health. With the increase of new business models in the healthcare industry, it’s crucial to ensure that both the physical and digital aspects of the patient journey are seamless. Healthcare organizations that treat patients as consumers who expect great experiences across digital, telehealth, and other contexts will likely be well positioned to create an omnichannel experience that can improve patient engagement.
Trend 2: Value-Based Care + Improving Patient Experiences Using AI and Machine Learning
In this industry, the right or wrong action can mean life or death in a matter of seconds, so healthcare delivery and payer organizations need to be able to proactively monitor patients and employ the right technology. But many organizations are struggling to monitor health behaviors and adhere to treatment protocols.
To address these challenges, the industry is looking to machine learning and AI, with 94% of healthcare organizations stating they believe AI can improve patient experiences and increase cost efficiencies. Due to the increasing use of AI and machine learning in healthcare, a healthcare approach called precision health has emerged and is focused on proactively diagnosing and lowering the risk of future illnesses.
Additionally, Gartner found that in clinical care, organizations are increasingly investing in machine learning and predictive models for detecting the risk of clinic deterioration, mortality, or readmission. This adoption of machine learning has the potential to empower healthcare companies to improve patient outcomes while reducing costs.
Finally, there is a regulatory driver for this trend. Rising healthcare costs have incentivized more states to shift toward value-based care models to improve quality and reduce costs, and avoid the risk of funding loss due to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Value-based care models aim to reduce the prevalence of over-expenditure in healthcare and incentivize physicians to make the most out of the patient experience. Several organizations are modernizing their tech stacks and capabilities through SaaS providers in order to deliver this value-based care model.
Trend 3: Modern Health IT Ecosystem Increases Vulnerability to Security Threats
According to J.P. Morgan, data security remains a large part of IT expenditures for healthcare organizations since they manage a large amount of private patient health information. The digitization of data has made protected healthcare information (PHI) more vulnerable, highlighting the importance of security in the industry. Due to the sensitivity of PHI, healthcare organizations must always prioritize protection against security and data breaches, and remain compliant with standards such as HIPAA and NIST.
Yet, most healthcare providers currently do not track patient data access history. Verizon’s 2018 Data Breach Investigation Report states that healthcare is the only industry where insiders cause more data breach damage than external users (58% of healthcare security breach attempts involve inside actors). This puts patient data privacy at risk because security teams don’t have the visibility they need in order to predict and prevent internal patient privacy breaches.
To counter more sophisticated data exploitation attacks such as ransomware and phishing emails, new techniques like machine learning will also play important roles in protecting medical data. Emerging businesses like Protenus are attempting to build AI solutions to protect patient privacy and assist risk mitigation to alleviate market pressure from exposed health record costs. For the hundreds of companies that participated in a Ponemon study, the average total cost of a healthcare data breach was $4 million, which underscores the significance of prioritizing intelligent solutions to proactively maximize cyber and data security.
PagerDuty’s Solutions for Healthcare Help Improve Patient Experiences and Operational Cost Efficiency
With the transformation of the healthcare industry, it is crucial for healthcare organizations to ensure maximum visibility and reliability across their evolving technology stacks so they can take real-time action to protect patients while simultaneously improving efficiency.
To achieve this, healthcare organizations must implement solutions that facilitate digital transformation so that they are positioned to adopt cutting-edge technologies such as AIOps, automation, and data analytics. Organizations should leverage automation and analytics tools to align with key drivers such as reliability, HIPAA compliance, modernization, and more. As pressures increase around value-based care and the consumerization of healthcare, the stakes around modernizing healthcare IT will continue to increase exponentially.