By Dr. Nick van Terheyden, Chief Medical Officer, Dell
2015 was an incredible year in technology and healthcare; from consumer technology and personalized devices coming to market to the introduction of supercomputers that reduce the time and cost of healthcare data analysis. It’s been great to see how innovation continues to penetrate the medical profession, improving patient services and care. As we look to 2016, there are some areas that we can expect technology to further impact.
Growing Patient Concern Over Security
Security is a major concern for consumers and the healthcare industry, and the threat of it is only rising. While technology and data provides patients with the precise, personalized medicine that they want, individuals have not forgotten the security breaches that occurred this past year, which had heightened their concern, particularly with the type of personal information in medical records. Implementing stronger, more reliable and transparent security practices will be a critical objective for medical practitioners, but equally important will be reestablishing trust with their patients and consumers.
The Consumerization Of Healthcare
Consumers have grown to expect personal and custom experiences from technology. The consumerization of healthcare will gather greater momentum and the healthcare industry will see the first effects of this trend on individual behavior in 2016. By treating patients and individuals seeking healthier lifestyles as consumers, the healthcare and related technology developed becomes more and more applicable to serving their needs and meeting them where they are. This is a great thing. As an example, imagine telehealth kiosks now allow patients to engage in a face-to-face video consult with their doctor, or have their vitals taken and receive a diagnosis — without setting foot in their doctor office. Pilot programs for these “pods” are being tested in Rite Aid and the Cleveland Clinic.
The latest innovations will further fuel the moment around treating patients as consumers and developing relevant technology that make it easier for them to monitor their health and seek treatment, driving more adoption and healthier populations.
Embracing The Internet of Things Toward Patient Engagement
The Internet of Things (IoT) connects billions of objects around the world, and in 2016, the healthcare industry will take the first steps in tapping IoT’s full potential through passive monitoring. Leveraging wearables and connected devices, healthcare organizations, with the consent of patients will be able to passively monitor the wellness of patients and personalize their experience. For example, for those with chronic diseases, such as diabetes or heart disease, these devices can monitor all aspects of the patient’s daily life to provide insight to the patient and the healthcare providers, into how different activities, such as eating, sleeping or watching TV, affects his or her body. Connected devices equipped with real-time feedback can provide subtle alerts that prompt, caution or encourage patients to stick with or avoid certain behaviors. These devices can also help them to comply with a treatment or regimen. In 2016, we’ll see the industry understand that subtle patient engagement through passive monitoring can have positive, long-term effects on behavioral change.
The Potential Of ICD-10
While the rollout of ICD-10 was reluctantly undertaken by some in 2015, the healthcare industry will begin to realize its actual potential in 2016. As a result of ICD-10, healthcare organizations will receive a higher level of granularity in the clinical data that has been collected including patient information and clinical data. Utilizing this data will enable new insights and deeper analysis. This will be the first step in turning descriptive healthcare analytics to predictive and prescriptive insights enabling results like reducing readmission and improving population health management. However, as we see potential benefits being realized, discussions will center on the interoperability of systems that is limiting analysis and holding back potential insights.
More Democratized, Globalized Healthcare
While diseases such as AIDS and malaria are now considered chronic or curable with the proper treatment, there are still geographical, technological and societal barriers that pose great challenges when trying to treat the demographics that are most commonly affected. In the third world and emerging countries, healthcare organizations are leveraging technology, including simple mobile devices, to provide patients with faster, more effective care. In 2016, we will see more companies create technology that democratizes healthcare with innovations that help to lower the cost of healthcare, enhance patient engagement and improve overall worldwide population health.
Not only is it exciting to imagine how we’ll see technology continue to evolve and change everyday life, but also fascinating to see the impact and opportunities for enabling healthcare providers. These trends will manifest in some exciting and innovative changes in 2016 that will have a tremendous impact and further improvements in patient care.