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Envisioning Tomorrow’s Practice – in 2019

Posted by Michael Greiwe, MD | November 29, 2018 |
Michael Greiwe, MD

Change management has become a bigger job in today’s medical practice. While regulatory and reimbursement changes are a standard part our workflows, the technology we use is rapidly advancing – and will continue to change how we interact with patients and payers. Responding to these trends means having a strategic focus on digital transformation whether your practice has five providers or 5,000. At every level, technology is changing how we deliver care.

These technology shifts are changing the very fabric of our interactions with patients. For example, currently, the majority of visits are in-person, between a doctor and patient. This is changing, as the Internet, coupled with intelligent telehealth software, can bring together doctor or midlevel with their patients in a virtual house call designed to cut travel and improve access and outcomes.

Today, we use remote monitoring technology to track and treat chronic diseases in our patients. Tomorrow, we may have digital pills, with tiny sensors, that let us monitor when and if our patients complied with our medical recommendations.

What tech changes can we look for in 2019? How will they impact our practices, whether a small independent network or part of a hospital-owned ambulatory chain? How will these changes impact how we do business?

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This article will look at some of the changes we see happening in the medical practice and how they will impact the people that provide and receive care in 2019 and beyond.

Patient Data

While healthcare organizations have always captured patient data, a lack of interoperability between software and hardware have created silos of data that simply don’t play well together. The larger the health system, the more disparate these systems became.

But over the past few years, health systems have made a concerted effort to bring these systems together under enterprise-wide information systems with data warehouses with the goal of mining all of the data at our fingertips. Imaging Technology News says, “This volume of data offers new sources of healthcare insights that previously were very difficult and time-consuming to manually tabulate.”

In 2019, Forbes suggests that we will finally get smarter with the patient data at our fingertips. Their big prediction is that 50% of all healthcare organizations will capture patient data in real-time and use it to make clinical and strategic operational decisions. Watch for health systems to practice data analytics and use it to:

  • Change the health of populations by identifying at-risk patients and teaching new behaviors to improve health outcomes.
  • Identify ways in which we can improve care by applying treatments that cost less but have better health outcomes.
  • Open new avenues of clinical research by spotting previously uncovered healthcare outcome trends.
  • Begin to preemptively screen at-risk patients earlier while identifying patients that previously might have fallen through cracks in the clinical safety net.

Watch for patient data from healthcare wearable devices to become a standard part of the clinical workflow. Also look for new data-driven clinical support software that will help doctors make more accurate evidence-based decisions.

Telehealth

“Smartphone attachments, some of which are already cleared by the FDA, will help perform the physical exam, including taking vital signs, listening to heart sounds, and visualizing eardrums with greater clarity that will enable clinicians and patients to see what was previously invisible to them.”

Ray Dorsey and Eric Topol

Fortune

Fortune magazine predicts that digital health tools such as telehealth platforms, remote monitoring sensors, and mHealth applications will explode in popularity next year. These tools will fuel a 30% increase to more than a $25 billion market by the end of next year. The physician shortage, as well as an urgent need to cut costs, is why these applications are expected to increase rapidly. With patients expressing comfort in the use of their smartphones to see the doctor, all of the lights have turned green for telehealth applications like OrthoLive to accelerate next year.

We’ve reported previously on how rapidly the barriers to telehealth are being dismantled; 2019 will be the year that the technology crosses into a standard part of the clinical workflow.

IoT

The Internet of Things (IoT) has grown in the healthcare space to include remote monitoring devices, smart sensors, mobile applications, and wearable devices. IT Pro says there are around 3.6 billion connected devices and that number is increasing. HIMSS Asia Pacific published data showing how healthcare organizations will use IoT applications next year:

  • Today 60% of healthcare organizations around the world are using IoT in daily operations. By 2019 that volume will increase to 89%.
  • By 2020, 646 million IoT devices will be used for healthcare.
  • By 2019, 60% of all healthcare software applications will collect real-time IoT data.

Forbes predicts a much deeper market penetration in the healthcare sector for Internet-connected devices. They say, “The possibilities are endless for healthcare organizations and the IoT – smart pills, smart home care, personal healthcare management, electronic health records, managing sensitive data, and an overall higher degree of patient care.”

Artificial Intelligence

No vision of tomorrow’s practice would be complete without a mention of AI. Virtually every predictor for 2019 mentions this technology as expanding. Forbes says the AI healthcare market will exceed $1.7 billion and that applying the technology would result in a 10 to 15% productivity gain in current clinical workflows. They suggest we will begin to see computers interacting with humans in new ways, and these tools will affect imaging, diagnosis, drug discovery, and risk analytics in the future.

Managing Change and Building Tomorrow’s Practice

Healthcare has traditionally been a slow adopter of technology innovation. That is changing as healthcare organizations move from simply gathering data to using it to create actionable insights that improve health outcomes. Healthcare IT News says,Simply put, forward-thinking healthcare organizations must embrace technology at every point of the patient’s care.”

This means leveraging appropriate technologies in ways that benefit both the patient and provider. OrthoLive offers a telehealth application designed to bring patient and provider together in the convenience of the virtual visit. Even the smallest of practices can leverage this technology to build their business. Contact us for a complimentary demo.

Topics: "telehealth", "telemedicine", technology, 2019, artificial intelligence

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