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Industry Solutions and Trends
5 ways the healthcare industry will evolve in 2017
Feb 1, 2017

This article was originally posted in Becker’s Health IT & CIO Review January 4, 2017


There's never been a more interesting time to work in healthcare. Legislative efforts such as the Affordable Care Act and Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act have been important steps in the transition to value-based care.


Newly empowered healthcare consumers have forced providers and payers to re-think their patient engagement strategies. Advancements in technology and investments in health information technology have helped provider organizations move closer to achieving the IHI Triple Aim of a better patient experience, improved population health and reduced cost of care.


From a technology perspective, in 2016 the industry began to graduate beyond its single-minded focus on electronic medical record deployments to explore how to best leverage data, infrastructure innovation and human capital to improve operations and deliver quality care for patients. Here's what we can expect to see in 2017 and beyond:


  1. DevOps will emerge as a driver of innovation. While other industries and disciplines – such as telecommunications, financial services, social media marketing and software as a service/cloud services – have long embraced the DevOps movement, healthcare has lagged behind. That's about to change. As the delivery of care becomes ever more digitized, we'll see healthcare organizations increasingly using open and standards-based products that allow for greater automation and a simplification of network infrastructure. This nascent trend is powerful because not only does it simplify operations and management of the network, it also allows information technology organizations to do more with less, while increasing agility and promoting a culture of innovation.


  1. Cybersecurity will reign as the industry's single biggest pain point. Two primary factors are contributing to a perfect storm of cybersecurity challenges: First, many organizations are dealing with an aging security infrastructure made worse by the prevalence of connected devices that need to be updated to manufacturers' security specifications. A cybersecurity infrastructure designed around HIPAA compliance – as is all-too-common today – is unfortunately woefully inadequate for stopping advanced, persistent threats. The second factor is that attacking healthcare seems to be a growth industry for bad actors; medical data is worth 10 times more than financial data on the black market.


  1. Telehealth's full potential will be unleashed. Despite the obvious benefits, estimates have shown that only about 15 million people, or 5 percent of the U.S. population, used telehealth services in the past year. However, as regulations for reimbursement catch up and the technology improves, we'll see increased availability and usage of telehealth visits. In addition to driving down the cost of care and improving provider utilization, telehealth will make it easier for disadvantaged and rural communities everywhere to access quality, affordable care.


  1. The explosion of healthcare IoT and wearables will drive demand for data scientists. Projections have shown that the connected devices market could grow from $32.5 billion USD in 2015 to $163 billion USD by 2020. Previously analog personal healthcare devices are now digitized and IP addressable, such as diabetic insulin pumps, heart pacemakers, sleep apnea devices, and telemedicine devices and telemetry. Providers and payers are sitting on a gold mine of data from these connected devices; the challenge will be in analyzing (and securing) the data in order to deliver effective value-based treatments and make better clinical and operational decisions.


  1. "Consolidation" will take on a new meaning. While health system consolidation and business portfolio changes will continue to occur, another type of consolidation will have a profound impact on organizations' balance sheets and operations: data center consolidation. As more business applications move to the cloud, healthcare organizations will increasingly prioritize consolidating their private data centers in order to reduce annual IT operating expenses and reinvest in other parts of the business.