For the last few years, as we all head back to work after a (hopefully) relaxing summer, I have shared some thoughts and insights on the health technology market and where I see it heading. Here are five insights and predictions for 2013/2014:
- Big Data becomes last year’s buzzword. It seems as if every event, conference, and publication has had a chapter or section devoted to Big Data. However as reality has set in, big data has also meant “big challenges”. Making sense of terabytes of data requires not just incredible processing power, but also good quality comprehensive substrates to analyze. While an organization like Kaiser Permanente may be able to analyze big data collected through a closed system that extends from primary care to intensive care, the same is not true in Canada where large chunks of healthcare information sit in standalone databases, making it difficult to use predictive analytics to provide useful real-time clinical insights.
- eReferral and data interoperability become the new buzzwords driven by a growing army of EMR-enabled physicians. With many provinces nearing or surpassing a critical mass of users of EMRs, physicians and their practice teams are becoming more sophisticated. Gone are the days where it was sufficient to optimize the EMR in one’s clinical practice. The demand will shift to data sharing and true interoperability between providers and systems. Get ready for a wide range of requirements driven by clinical users who are more focused on care than technology.
- Mobile technology starts to become really useful. Consumers are already using mobile apps and devices such as fitness trackers to manage their health and demonstrate success. This is more than a fad and the advent of wearable technology will result in literally thousands of new applications and devices that will have a significant impact on patients and encourage physicians to integrate them more effectively into patient care.
- Telehealth becomes more commonplace facilitated by reimbursement programs that recognize the value of treating patients at a distance. Many physicians and organizations are now using maturing telehealth technologies to consult with patients and facilitate follow up visits without bringing the patient into the office for a face-to-face encounter. Companies to watch include Vancouver-based startup Medeo.
- The message becomes the foundational building block of a maturing EMR market and healthcare system. Ten years ago, provinces focused on developing functional specifications and certifications for EMR systems. As the provincial programs evolve further, with a growing need for data interoperability between EMRs and other clinical systems, the focus will shift towards standardized messaging so that information can easily be shared and reproduced. Functional specifications will become less relevant and less important.
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