What Can We Expect from HIT in the Next 12 Months?

| September 09, 2012

A technology writer makes 10 predictions for how health information technology (HIT) will affect providers and patients over the next 12 months.

What better way to celebrate September's National Health Information Technology (HIT) Week than to explore how electronic health records (EHR) and other technology solutions will affect providers and patients in the coming year?

That's what Scott Mace set out to do. The writer for Health Leaders Media recently outlined his predictions for the next 12 months: 

Patients will ask, "Where's my data?"

To illustrate this prediction, Mace shares a scenario he heard during the 2012 Healthcare Unbound Conference, which CAST co-sponsored. The scenario predicts that patients around the country will hold a national event to bombard providers with requests for their medical records. 

These patients will then complain loudly when providers fail to respond adequately. The scenario may not play out exactly this way, admits Mace. But he’s sure patients will lead the effort to make medical records more common and accessible.

A supply squeeze will cause EHR software prices to rise.

This development will allow EHR developers to increase their staffing capacities and redesign their products. Providers will demand that the redesigned systems make it easier for them to generate EHRs that patients can use.

The human touch will return to the spotlight.

“We are running the risk of losing the human touch in an age of health tech marvels,” writes Mace. He recommends personalizing the patient experience through videoconferencing, social networking and technology-enabled support groups. When all else fails, a simple phone call between a physician and patient can’t hurt.

Tablets will replace expensive videoconferencing gear.

Existing teleconferencing equipment is bulky, expensive and underutilized, says Mace. Replacing that equipment with tablets might boost the use of teleconferencing, even in group settings.

Identity fraud will get the attention it deserves.

Automating medical records that are generated by multiple payers and providers creates a huge potential for fraud. A national patient and provider identification system is the only way to reduce that potential, says Mace. Patients may have to put pressure on legislators to amend current laws that stand in the way of such a system.

Technology developers will tackle “alert fatigue.”

Clinicians get so many alerts from their electronic devices that they may be tempted to ignore them. Developers can redesign individual devices, but we also need a systems approach to managing and prioritizing clinician alerts, says Mace.

More patients will use technology to help them stay healthy.

Technology that helps patients take their medications, exercise and lose weight will become more popular. Patients will reap financial rewards – including savings on their health insurance premiums – if they reach their health goals.

Medical homes will become medical cities.

Look for more public health research that analyzes what makes entire cities healthy or sick.

Social networking will replace traditional training methods.

Direct care workers won’t have to sit in classrooms to receive training or retraining. Instead, they’ll become part of virtual classrooms that feature long-distance learning and remote mentoring.

People will trump technology.

Clinicians and providers will stop promoting technology for its own sake. Instead, they’ll gain a new appreciation for how technology can help them track operational and care-delivery outcomes.