7 Health IT Trends to Watch in 2017

morris-panner200By Morris Panner, CEO of Ambra Health
Twitter: @ambrahealth

2017 is ushering in an era of unprecedented uncertainty surrounding federal government policy on healthcare and everything seems to be on the table. Value-based care, however, is here to stay, regardless of the current political landscape. Providers, all the way from large health systems to small private practices, are embracing new technologies that empower them to be more efficient and provide better patient care, with fewer resources. So while it may be a bumpy start for some in the world of Healthcare policy, Health IT is poised to make even bigger strides into supporting patient care.

Here are our 2017 predictions:

  1. Enterprise medical imaging eliminates the need for duplicative processing
    In the world of value-based care, enterprise image management has boiled down to one critical item – we can’t duplicate medical imaging. As regional networks expand and facilities acquire new organizations, they’re increasing risks to both patients and providers when prior imaging can’t be easily accessed in a timely manner or when images live in multiple different systems. A single source of truth for imaging has to stop being elusive. We’ve seen many facilities turning towards cloud VNA (vendor neutral archiving) as a method of safely storing data that acts as a central repository for all imaging, so priors are easily exchanged using the cloud when needed, and all imaging across the health system is shared, regardless of where the imaging was done.
  2. Cloud comes of age
    It wasn’t too long ago that people were skeptical of the cloud, but today, over 83% of healthcare organizations are using cloud technology according to a HIMSS Analytics Cloud Survey. More than ever physicians are turning to the cloud when it comes to solving image management hurdles. A new report from MarketsandMarkets also estimates the healthcare cloud computing market will grow to $9.48 billion by 2020. The flexibility of cloud architecture makes it easy to bridge the gaps between the technologies that are already in use at an organization.
  3. Predictive analysis and machine learning takes root in new ways
    There has been much talk of AI’s (artifical intelligence) potential to streamline read times and improving accuracy. Particularly, machine learning, a set of algorithms that can learn complex patterns and make predictions from data, has shown promise in radiology. However, predictive intelligence can also be leveraged to help with medical imaging data intake and management. With facilities expanding at unparalleled rates and bringing in new data through referral programs and second opinion portals, managing and matching data can become a nightmare. Predictive tools can and should ease these workflows to provide auto-matching of imaging with radiologic reports, PHI (personal health information) normalization to match up imaging with patient records and more.
  4. Consumerism in healthcare and patients taking control of their health records
    As patients take on more financial responsibility for their healthcare, they seek facilities and providers that can maximize the value of their dollars. Facilities must understand imaging consumer preferences, which frequently include items like an image-enabled patient portal. However, few patient portals are image-enabled; only reports, not the images themselves are available. Particularly, if a patient suffers from a more serious prognosis that requires a larger care team or multiple opinions, carrying imaging from place-to-place is exhausting. Using cloud technology, facilities can empower patients with control over their own image data by eliminating CDs and image-enabling patient portals.
  5. Value-based care forces elimination of repeat imaging, broader interoperability
    Providers today are getting paid more if they can figure out how to avoid unnecessary medical imaging procedures. In fact, MACRA, Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act, contains 22 performance criteria for radiology, which includes interventional radiology and radiation oncology measures that affect both patient facing and non-patient facing radiologists. In light of the move to value-based care and other trends including consolidation of facilities and heightened patient consumerism, many facilities have moved towards the cloud to streamline image management and reduce duplicate imaging. In addition, interoperability networks and HIEs are all expanding beyond the EMR to include imaging for a complete patient picture.
  6. Imaging data takes on a more important role in early diagnosis
    As of November 30, 2016 the Cancer Moonshot initiative received additional funding through the 21st Century Cures Act. Moonshot calls for the prevention and early diagnosis of cancer, which is frequently done through imaging exams. However, without previous imaging work, it is difficult to tell if abnormalities are the natural anatomy, or if they are stemming from another cause. Managing medical images in the cloud has been a key technological innovation for the storage of large imaging sets and easy access to patient priors through automated matching.
  7. Diversity in Radiology
    In the American College of Radiology’s most recent annual Commission on Human Resources Workforce Survey, women were found to be less likely to pursue a career in radiology than men, with just 21% of practicing radiologists being women. In an interview by Aunt Minnie, Dr. Holly Jumper of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences discussed that mentorship was a key influencing factor for women choosing their medical speciality. That’s why organizations like Ambra Health are teaming up with leading providers to establish sponsors and mentor networks for women in radiology and informatics. Ambra Health CMO, Mini Peiris, and Dr. Geraldine McGinty, a practicing radiologist and thought leader in the imaging and informatics space, have together launched RADxx, aimed at encouraging mentoring programs in radiology for women and men.