In recognition of National Health IT week, here’s my take on significant trends and amazing progressive events of the past five years (in no particular order):
Meaningful Use – How can we not celebrate this significant accomplishment? As of 2016, more than 96 percent of all hospitals have attested to Meaningful Use and are using certified health information technology to improve their outcomes. Provider adoption for the ambulatory space is also significant, standing at approximately 86 percent. The government funding has accomplished its primary goal and we now have a solid base of electronic records.
Vendor Consolidation – Five years ago who would have thought that two industry powerhouses: Siemens and McKesson, would be out of the healthcare IT space? Although they still have some products and services in related areas, their core EHR businesses were sold with Cerner purchasing Siemens IT and Allscripts purchasing McKesson EIS. For the larger health systems there are now two dominant vendors: Cerner and Epic. Hospital consolidation and merger/acquisition activity has continued to fuel this growth at the expense of other vendors.
Cybersecurity – HIPAA and MU drove the initial focus on cybersecurity and protection of patient records. In the last two years, however, cyber criminals have targeted healthcare and have shut down a few hospital IT departments for days or even weeks.
The value of a medical record on the dark web is multiple times more valuable than financial records, hence the move by criminals into this area. Just a few years ago the title of CISO (Chief Security Information Officer) was unheard of in healthcare, and now it is becoming a common role. The move to the cloud as one way to improve cybersecurity is just starting to pick up steam and will be watched closely.
Interoperability – Progress has been made in exchanging patient data between healthcare providers and their different EHRs, but more needs to be done. Certainly, in the past few years the major EHR vendors have made strides. Coalitions such as CommonWell recognize that this as a problem that needs to be solved. The development of a new standard (FHIR) has shown promise at this early stage.
Patient Portals – MU has increased the number of patients who have access to their electronic data through an on-line portal. Ease of use has improved over the years and the major EHR vendors have allowed patient access to all providers using their technology. Access across different technologies remains a challenge and the State HIEs have slowed their development in this area (with a few notable exceptions). There is still conflicting research on how much of our population really wants access and wants to manage their own healthcare (population health being a related area to watch in the future). We have seen increases in patents who track their exercise and health data from portable devices, but this may be leveling off.
Ed Duryee is director of Strategic Services at Avaap where he is responsible for helping customers solve business challenges and align technology investments with strategic goals.