September is always an exciting and interesting time from a work perspective despite notification (via the Labour day long weekend) that summer is over. How will 2013 differ from previous years in terms of adoption and use of health information technology in clinical settings? Here are my Top 10 predictions for the year ahead:
- Increased focus on Meaningful Use of information technology and EMRs. With pressure on provincial budgets and a number of provincial EMR programs nearing a critical mass of EMR system users, demand will increase in 2013 to demonstrate value from the investments that have been made in IT and EMRs. At the present time, Meaningful Use measures are still qualitative and based on self-reporting to a large degree. Expect more quantitative measures to be defined, particularly those that are directly reportable from EMR systems.
- Information exchange will increase between EMRs within provincial boundaries through EMR-to-EMR E-Referrals. However, do not expect this capability to be universally available in all provinces even if the same EMR systems are used. E-Referral systems are currently being tested and deployed based upon HL-7 messages; however, the format of these messages is provincial rather than national.
- Consolidation in the EMR market. The Canadian EMR market continues to be fragmented due to provincial policies and programs that have a mandate to support and drive EMR adoption within their jurisdictions. While this will limit the ability of EMR products across the country, expect to see some consolidation as larger vendors acquire other companies in order to gain access to provinces in which they have not traditionally had a presence.
- U.S. EMR vendors will begin to enter Canada. With massive investment taking place in the U.S. and hundreds of EMR products available to U.S. physicians, some U.S. companies are looking for supplementary markets in which to sell their products. At the specialty level, many of these systems are very sophisticated as there is a large enough market to support their development and they will seek additional sales channels. Challenges that these companies will face include customization of vocabularies and drug databases for the Canadian setting, achieving provincial certification, and integration of billing systems. However, specialists may forgive the need to have integrated billing and certification in lieu of more advanced functionality that is designed for their specific specialty needs.
- Canadian EMR vendors will increase their sales presence in the U.S. Canadian EMR products have long history and broad experience in Canada and will begin to translate this expertise in the U.S. The size of the U.S. market will allow Canadian companies to compete in geographic markets, e.g. North East or North West.
- Specialist EMR adoption will be a much important focus for provincial programs that are reaching a critical mass of primary care users.
- Medication management and E-Prescribing will become more visible as provincial drug information systems such as Pharmanet in BC and PIN in Alberta become tightly integrated with EMR systems. Expect to see enhancements to prescribing functionality within EMRs.
- Mobile access to EMR and clinical data. This is an exciting trend that we are likely to see accelerate in 2013 including the release of EMR apps for mobile phones (IOS and Android predominantly) that allow users to login to their EMRs remotely and view specific data: lab results, medication lists, problems, and clinical notes.
- Connected diagnostic devices. Getting data into EMRs remains a challenge; however, this is going to get easier in terms of basic and more advanced diagnostic information being transmitted to EMRs directly via connected devices including vital signs and specialty data such as EKGs and respirometry.
- Tablets will become more important for information access — the ability to view clinical data either remotely or in clinical settings. Functionality will improve to enable more efficient data entry, but these devices will not yet replace desktops or laptops. This trend will increase with the growing adoption of mini-tablets in the 7" to 8" range.
Do you agree or disagree? Are there additional trends you see as important for 2013? Click on the “Comments” link below to add your thoughts.