Part II: 5 Significant Health IT Trends for 2015

In my last post, we looked at two of the top five health IT trends I’m seeing for 2015. In this blog, we’ll conclude with a more in-depth look at the remaining three trends.

To recap, the five areas that I strategically see growing rapidly in 2015 are focused on the consumerism of healthcare, personalization of medicine, consumer-facing mobile strategies, advancements in health information interoperability including consumer-directed data exchange and finally, innovation focused on tele-health and virtual care.

While all of these trends can be independent of each other and will respectively grow separately, I see the fastest growth occurring where they are combined or integrated because they improve each other.

Here’s my take on the three remaining trends:

  1. Consumer-facing mobile strategies: To control spiraling healthcare costs related to managing patients with chronic conditions as well as to navigate new policy regulations, 70 percent of healthcare organizations worldwide will invest in consumer-facing mobile applications, wearables, remote health monitoring and virtual care by 2018. This will create more demand for big data and analytics capability to support population health management initiatives. And to further my earlier points, the personalization of medicine relies on additional quality and population health management initiatives so these innovations and trends will fuel each other at faster rates as they become more integrated and mature.
  2. Consumer-directed interoperability: Along with the evolution of the consumerism of healthcare, you will see the convergence of health information exchange with consumer-directed data exchange. While this has been on the proverbial roadmap for many years, consumers are getting savvier as they engage their healthcare and look to manage their increasing healthcare costs better along with their families’ costs. Meaningful use regulations for stage 3 will drive this strategy this year but also just the shear demand by consumers will be a force as well. I am personally seeing a lot of exciting innovation in this area today.
  3. Virtual care: Last but certainly not least, tele-health, tele-medicine and virtual care will be top-of-mind in 2015. The progression of tele-health in recent years is perhaps best demonstrated by a recent report finding that the number of patients worldwide using tele-health services is expected to grow from 350,000 in 2013 to approximately 7 million by 2018. Moreover, three-fourths of the 100 million electronic visits expected to occur in 2015 will occur in North America. We are seeing progress not only on the innovation and provider adoption side but slowly public policy is starting to evolve. While the policy evolution should have occurred much sooner, last Congressional session we saw 57 bills introduced and as of June 2013, 40 out of 50 states had introduced legislation addressing tele-health policy. I see in every corner of the country that care providers want to use this type of technology and innovation to improve care coordination, increase access and efficiency, increase quality and decrease costs. Patients do as well so let’s keep pushing policy and regulation to catch up with reality.

While the headlines this year will be dominated by meaningful use (good and bad stories), ICD-10, interoperability (or data-blocking), and other sensational as well as eye-catching topics, I am extremely encouraged by the innovations emerging across this country. We are starting to bend the cost curve by implementing advanced payment and care delivery models. While change and evolution are never easy, we are surrounded by clinicians, patients, consumers, administrators, innovators and even legislators and regulators who are all thinking and acting in similar directions with respects to healthcare. This is fueling these changes “on the ground” in all of our communities. This year will be as tough as ever in the industry but also, a great opportunity to be a part of history.

What do you think? Agree or disagree with these trends?

As a healthcare innovation executive and strategist, Justin is a corporate, board and policy advisor who also serves as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence with the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC). In addition, Mr. Barnes is Chairman Emeritus of the HIMSS EHR Association as well as Co-Chairman of the Accountable Care Community of Practice. Barnes has appeared in more than 800 journals, magazines and broadcast media outlets relating to national leadership of healthcare and health IT. He recently launched a weekly radio show, “This Just In.”