For most of us in the marketing and ad-tech space, the only thing resting on the performance of our technology is revenue, but healthcare technology, on the other hand, has the health, safety and sometimes the life itself of actual humans at stake. As such, the growth of that space and the development of new technologies are much slower, as it is held to the highest standards of performance and reliability as well as subject to various regulations and oversight.
However, recent legislation like the federal HITECH Act and the Affordable Care Act have put the healthcare industry’s feet to the fire to develop solutions to help providers comply with these acts and provide a higher level of care. Luckily, broad adoption of healthcare information technology is expected to save as much as $80 billion annually, according to the Rand Corporation, as well as generate new revenue streams through personal health technology and all of its accouterment, MediaPost reported.
People in general have become far more aware of and engaged in their own health and are using technology such as nutritional apps, online patient portals and wearables to gain greater control. Additionally, the ACA also caused patients to take a more active role in researching and selecting their health insurance plans, and both insurers and doctors have had to both comply with the act and meet higher demands from patients.
As such, industry pundits and publications are all saying the same thing: that 2015 will be a game changer year in healthcare technology.
Devin Gross, CEO, and Greg Blew, Chief Creative Officer and VP of Product Management, at Emmi Solutions told MedCityNews that they expect 2015 to be the year when healthcare providers begin to effectively leverage data at scale to establish lifelong relationships with patients. They admit that there will always be a transition period wherein patients must become comfortable with the sharing of data in this context, and providers must also actively participate in relationship building instead of relying on data and technology to do all the work. They must also ensure that, as they ramp up their data gathering and use, that platforms and practices are compliant with HIPAA regulation and patients’ privacy demands.
Obviously, data security is of the utmost importance to both patients and healthcare providers who must comply with HIPAA. Jennifer Anderson, executive director of the North Carolina Healthcare Information & Communications Alliance, told Enterprise Apps Today that security and privacy are at the forefront of every healthcare CIO’s mind. “With the Anthem breach reportedly affecting 80 million individuals, estimates of cost in the billions and the massive amounts of data that will be stored by health organizations, health providers will be investigating sophisticated technologies to mitigate risk,” she said.
Being a healthcare provider in the age of big data is a daunting challenge. Yes, data and technology can enable them to provide better patient care but it also exposes them to greater risk of HIPAA noncompliance and patient lawsuits over unsecured or leaked personal data. IT breaches like Anthem have caused independent physicians to actually reconsider whether or not they are still equipped to operate on their own in this environment or if they should join up with a larger healthcare conglomerate for the benefits of their safety net, according to TechTarget. This indicates that increasing technology, and the regulation that goes along with it, will have a major impact on the healthcare market – leading to mergers, acquisitions and unfortunately, probably a few bankruptcies as the market evolves.
Ultimately, due diligence and a smart approach to choosing technology partners—ask colleagues for recommendations, don’t bite off more data than you can chew (or use, or store,) create infrastructure to support effective use of technology—can help providers of all sizes and specialties leverage technology for their benefit and the benefit of their patients. It is still an evolving market, and as such, providers will need to be flexible and ready to adapt to changes. Adoption will be slow, but it is growing every day, and new tech emerges every day to answer patient and physician needs as well as evolving regulations, so individual providers can select the platforms and partners that are right for them from a variety of options, the number of which are expected to skyrocket this year.
Image via Shawn Campbell