Three Major Health IT Moves Taking Shape in 2017

It’s National Health IT Week and we at Dell EMC are taking this time to look at the healthcare IT (HIT) trends of 2017. As always, evolving technology and innovation continues to drive healthcare transformation, but there are a few have become established movements in changing the healthcare landscape over this past year.

1. Data: From Acquisition To “Appification”

The data lifecycle—taking raw data to innovation—is speeding up, bringing us closer to the promise of evidence-based medicine.

With increasing adoption of cloud in 2017, especially software-defined, secure cloud technologies, providers are gaining the convenience and accessibility needed to pool large data sets (both clinical and non-clinical) and apply analytics functionality like never before.

Recent developments made in the areas of cognitive computing, machine learning and AI are helping to translate the massive volume of raw data into meaningful insights—insights that are leading to ground-breaking point-of-care and patient solutions. Take Freenome, for example, a San Francisco-based startup that is using AI to build non-invasive disease screenings. And on the patient-end of things we have solutions like the AI-powered mobile app, YourMD, that is turning your data into “trusted and actionable information”.

As data becomes more a part of the fabric of our healthcare ecosystem, it is critical that we continue to leverage the latest advancements, following four basic steps in the process of turning data into innovations: acquire everything, analyze anything, archive the right things, and amplify/appify actionable things.

Figure 1. The data cycle includes four basic steps that help turn raw data into timely, meaningful and actionable intelligence, and then into clinically-relevant applications and solutions

2. Consumerism: Empowered Patients and New Care Choices

We’ve witnessed several trends over the past year to support the rise in healthcare consumerism. First is the growing consolidation of providers—a model that has taken shape largely because of a need to form clinically integrated networks that streamline care, reduce costs and provide more patient-centric services. Just this year we witnessed consolidations from healthcare giants, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), both acquiring a network of regional health systems in their respective states. It’s a move that they anticipate will help reduce costs and improve care for millions of patients.

Secondly, competition is growing. Retail health veterans like CVS and Walgreens, along with major telehealth service providers like TeleDoc, are leading the way in providing a user-driven telehealth and mobile app experience. With that comes more convenience and choice, and a growing expectation from patients for similar user experiences across the healthcare industry.

Thirdly, innovation and appification empower patients, especially millennials, to take the lead in sharing their health information. Mobile apps and tracking devices offer new methods for acquiring data, while patient portals and IM’ing options help with data sharing between patients and their providers, family members and even payers. Many patients are even sharing data generated from consumer devices such as Fitbits (even though much of that data remains non-clinical). There is also a willingness from patients to share their data with employers and payers to help lower insurance rates.

These influences are expediting the adoption of healthcare consumerism in 2017.

3. Patient Safety: Beyond Ransomware to Life-And-Death Scenarios

2017 continues to bear witness to a significant rise in breaches and ransomware attacks aimed at the healthcare industry. Not simply just a security issue, patient safety is now a top concern, especially as attacks target medical devices and critical care systems.

The ‘Wannacry’ ransomware attack for instance took down major health systems, preventing access to patient information and suspending procedures. It garnered the attention of board level executives, causing many to rethink how they handle security, especially when it comes to protecting patients in their care.

And if that weren’t enough, a new threat is emerging—the malicious creation of synthetic data. Imagine a pace maker that has been hacked, and false signals sent to it causing it to malfunction. The possibility of data manipulation poses serious health concerns and is causing hospital CISOs to pay close attention.

Staying ahead of these threats is no small feat, especially since data has officially left the building. No longer just about defending the perimeter, the key to threat detection and response is an automated, holistic and analytics-driven security approach, one that extends laterally and vertically across the healthcare ecosystem.

As we head into the final months of the year, it’s clear that management of the data cycle, rising consumerism and the need to protect patients from cyberattacks will define and shape our HIT priorities. The rapid proliferation of all-things digital, with its promises and vulnerabilities, will drive innovation and force IT executives to embrace change.

About the Author: David Dimond