Electronic data interchange and in-house transcription are just two of the five emerging health IT applications that will surge in 2016, according to a new report by HIMSS Analytics.
Simply put, there's "tons and tons of activity" forecast for the year ahead as hospitals look to install or upgrade technologies, said Matt Schuchardt, HIMSS Analytics' director of market intelligence solutions sales.
The report examines the tech that will be shaping hospitals' buying plans in 2016, with these five technologies poised for growth of 200 percent or more compared with 2015.
Clinical data warehousing/mining (500 percent more hospitals with plans this year than last year). The huge increase indicates that a critical mass of providers are now moving to the next phase of IT maturity, understanding that electronic medical records are just the basic building blocks for care improvement.
"EMR systems are, at a very base level, sophisticated billing systems," said Schuchardt. "They capture a lot more data and allow you to bill more effectively. But they're just the very beginning of what the big data revolution is going to do to health. Hospitals are starting to realize that: The EMR is not the end of the transformation but the very, very beginning."
Nurse staffing/scheduling (300 percent increase). "It doesn't surprise me," said Schuchardt. "It connects with the perception that there is a shortage of physicians. What are we gonna do? The answer is you get physicians to work at their license level, and you get additional supporting staff to work at theirs. A lot of things a doctor does now don't require a physician to do. A nurse can do it.
"There's a huge growth in the more specialized nursing," he adds. "You're going to need to staff appropriately if you're going to lighten the load on doctors. Especially when you think about all the consolidation that's happening, it's a very low-level efficiency thing: When people buy companies they reduce duplicative staff and make sure you have the right people in the right place. We're seeing that nurses have a bigger impact because of their touch point with patients."
Electronic data interchange/clearinghouse (200 percent). "We're seeing a lot of activity here," said Schuchardt. "As you think about hospitals and health systems considering the 'payvider' model, the ability to handle these transactions is certainly an interim step to that.
"We're seeing a lot of the big EMR vendors really excelling in this space, and providing the opportunity to stay within their EMR as opposed to adding a third-party into the mix between you and the payer," he adds.
In-house transcription (200 percent). "I was recently looking at outsourced transcription – there were 1000 or so hospitals doing that in 2010, and it's up to about 2100 hospitals now," said Schuchardt. "Transcription is hard to do, it's low-margin and it requires a lot of effort."
Nonetheless, the better you transcribe clinical notes, the more detail you pick up, "the better you can bill," he said. "It's probably related to ICD-10. To get that code right you need to make sure you transcribe that doctor's note at a higher level of accuracy than you have in the past, so you can really divide those charges up effectively."
Medical necessity checking content (200 percent). This, said Schuchardt, is increasingly essential to pre-billing, enabling providers to better know, before they perform a service, whether it will get reimbursed.
"It's moving the denial meter from after you've provided the service to before," he said. "So you can check to see whether you're going to get paid for something before you do it – as opposed to historically, when you did the service, they denied it and you were out the reimbursement. These technologies are allowing you to get out in front of denials management by not providing services that will be denied."
This new report, which "really shows how much opportunity is still out there in the marketplace," was generated using HIMSS Analytics' new market intelligence tool, called Logic.
"We're really excited about it," said Schuchardt. "We're using good data, the tool is extremely easy to use, and we've really just scratched the surface of how we're utilizing it. We have tons of new features and data sets that are coming down the road. We're going to be adding a lot of DRG data and value-based payment information prior to HIMSS16, And continuing to unlock additional data sets and additional features within the tool. He said HIMSS16 attendees should visit HIMSS Analytics at Booth 1054 to learn more about the Logic tool.
Schuchardt noted some other takeways from the 2016 buying trends report. For one thing, he was impressed by the sheer number of organizations ready to make substantial investments in analytics infrastructure. For example, 290 hospitals plan to either buy for the first time (188) or upgrade (102) a clinical data warehouse in 2016.
"That's a huge number," he said. "We're not in a time now when there's thousands of people buying EMRs. But 300 hospitals looking to buy something is pretty significant."
Another lens HIMSS Analytics used to forecast the year ahead is the increase in hospitals with purchase plans. There too, some trend lines emerge. Data warehousing again is the most in-demand, followed closely by nurse scheduling systems.
But revenue cycle tools such as patient billing and credit/collections systems (with 59 and 58 more hospitals, respectively, looking to make buys in 2016 compared with 2015) are also notable.
"People have been talking about revenue cycle changes for some time, and it has felt like everyone was waiting for the other shoe to drop," said Schuchardt. "While we don't yet have total clarity about how value-based reimbursement is going to change all these things, we are starting to see activity in that space.
Meanwhile, some hospitals are playing catch-up. For instance, more than three years after Stage 2 meaningful use mandated computerized provider order entry, 160 hospitals are still looking to install CPOE.
[Also: Brace for CPOE in MU Stage 2]
"We're seeing a lot of meaningful use hangover," said Schuchardt – hospitals not currently using CPOE, but needing it to avoid getting dinged with payment adjustments. "Now that we're in the penalty phase, the impact of declining reimbursement is causing them to get their houses in order."