2020 outlook: Predictive analytics, AI, enhanced security, telehealth and more

Five health IT experts from patient experience and patient engagement IT vendor GetWellNetwork open up about what they are seeing as important trends this year.
By Bill Siwicki
02:16 PM
2020 outlook: predictive analytics, AI, enhanced security, telehealth and more

Predictive analytics, artificial intelligence, machine learning, personalization, consumer-centric services, enhanced security and telehealth all will affect the delivery and business of healthcare in big ways in 2020, according to five health IT experts from GetWellNetwork, a digital health company that focuses on the patient experience and patient engagement.

Healthcare IT News interviewed the CEO, CSO, CISO, CTO and vice president of strategy at GetWellNetwork to get their perspectives on where health IT is headed this year. Their answers ran the gamut, and are good indicators for where healthcare provider organization CIOs and other provider IT leaders need to keep their eyes on.

Predictive guidance, fueled by AI, improves patient workflows, care

In 2020, predictive guidance will enhance patient workflows, leading clinicians to increasingly deliver the right modality of treatment, adjust treatment recommendations as needed and triage patients to the right location throughout their care journey, whether it is the ER, urgent care or an at-home video consultation, said Robin Cavanaugh, chief technology officer at GetWellNetwork.

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"Predictive analytics will guide patient care by suggesting additional healthcare services that similar patients have utilized."

Robin Cavanaugh, GetWellNetwork

“Additionally, predictive analytics will guide patient care by suggesting additional healthcare services that similar patients have utilized, augmenting treatment protocols with healthy living suggestions and curating information to resources that may be helpful after treatment,” he added.

AI drives personalization, engagement to all-time high

For many years, the healthcare industry has treated patients as a cohort, Cavanaugh said. However, with the latest advancements in AI and machine learning, more healthcare provider organizations will begin to analyze data at a very personal level that focuses on the individual and their unique needs, rather than the larger cohort, he said.

“Through evaluating social and demographic data, AI will enable clinicians to predict the next best action for Jane Doe on her specific care journey, improving both her engagement and quality of care,” he said.

Growing consumer AI paradox: Expectation versus fear

As AI has risen in popularity and become more advanced, an interesting paradox has emerged that will become more pervasive in 2020, said Anthony Brooke, vice president of strategy at GetWellNetwork.

“On the one hand, consumers have grown to embrace and expect smartphones, watches, lightbulbs, email accounts, etc., in their daily lives – all of which are driven by AI or automation technology,” he said. “Simultaneously, consumers have latched onto headlines about abuse of perceived private data and creepy AI-driven facial recognition applications, instilling fear about AI and its potential power.”

"Consumers have latched onto headlines about abuse of perceived private data and creepy AI-driven facial recognition applications."

Anthony Brooke, GetWellNetwork

This paradox will continue to play out this year, indicating it will take more time for consumers to go all in on AI; but significant progress will be made in 2020, he predicted.

Continued enhancement of daily operations

As AI and machine learning technologies continue to evolve, they’re streamlining processes across the healthcare industry, making patient touchpoints more personalized and convenient, improving workflows, and making administrative tasks less burdensome.

“While new advancements continue to be unveiled, we’ll see an even greater emphasis placed on implementing AI- and ML-driven solutions in 2020, as healthcare organizations will look to leverage the tools to provide a better standard of care,” Cavanaugh said. ‘

“Next year, we’ll see many turn to new technologies to improve their day-to-day operations through the use of voice-controlled and patient-facing healthcare applications, remote patient monitoring solutions, and tools that provide a deeper, more real-time sentiment analysis.”

Health systems increase consumer-centric services

Easy access to low-cost primary care is beginning to help individuals stay in health prevention mode and mitigate the use of unnecessary urgent and emergency care.

"Health systems that do not compete on access and convenience will see their market share erode."

Todd Johnson, GetWellNetwork

“To face this new threat, large health systems will lean in to partner with retail care and invest in more consumer-centric tools and services to make their services more convenient and vertically integrated with specialists,” said Todd Johnson, chief strategy officer at GetWellNetwork. “Health systems that do not compete on access and convenience will see their market share erode.”

Consumerization in the driver’s seat

In 2020, consumerization across the healthcare industry will continue in full force, with both start-ups and established commercial entities pushing into primary and urgent care to provide high-quality, convenient and low-cost healthcare for their employees, said Michael O’Neil, founder and CEO of GetWellNetwork.

"Patient access and acquisition has become a strategic linchpin for both traditional and non-traditional healthcare providers."

Michael O’Neil, GetWellNetwork

“Patient access and acquisition has become a strategic linchpin for both traditional and non-traditional healthcare providers, with many leveraging population health solutions to save costs and remain competitive to attract and retain talent,” he said. “This year, this trend will continue, with organizations taking a more consumer-centric approach to healthcare and providing access to advanced technologies, while actively monitoring the proliferation of convenience-driven options to avoid consumer confusion.”

Enhanced security protocols

With the influx of more and more healthcare information technology comes an increase in security risk. In 2020, Cavanaugh predicts healthcare provider organizations will take the following steps to mitigate rising security concerns:

  • Embrace security standards: Organizations will gravitate toward more security standards, including HITRUST, and require additional levels of controls and certifications from all systems connected to their organizations.
  • Monitor user behavior: Organizations and their security teams will more closely monitor user behavior and activity to maintain control. Clinicians will continue to attempt to leverage increasingly available non-authorized apps and technologies (such as WhatsApp), regardless of whether or not they are sanctioned for use.
  • Stifle innovation: Organizations will slow some of the innovation and development they desire this year in order to adhere to a more conservative risk profile.

True security to protect risk matrices

In 2020, healthcare facilities will need to move away from the checkbox security model and implement true security controls that give businesses a gain in controlling their risk matrices and security footprints, said Jeremy Lynch, chief information security officer at GetWellNetwork.

“However, organizations need to be careful not to blindly follow a framework or benchmark without understanding what real gains there will be and what, if any, real mitigations have been accomplished,” he said. “An organization’s risk matrix and security footprint is constantly changing, and without the proper tools, teams and use of automation and AI, it’s hard for organizations to grasp what they actually have to protect and control.”

User behavior analytics along with tools like rasps and wafs increasingly will be integrated into security information and event management systems and help organizations identify the areas they need to protect, he added.

Continued focus on telehealth

As the connected care train chugs forward, healthcare will see a slew of new connected solutions enter the space in 2020, Cavanaugh said. He predicts the following technology trends will be front and center this year:

  • Introduction of triage bots: This advanced technology will assist in the routing of healthcare needs to appropriate clinical teams.
  • Expanded video access: Healthcare will see increased deployment of video visit capabilities into health system portals, payer applications and third-party service organizations.
  • Increased telehealth adoption: Adoption of virtual visits and telehealth will increase through targeted dynamic communication, adaptive advertisement and user training programs.

Fewer doctor visits, but increased obligation

Healthcare will see remote patient monitoring continue to grow in popularity in 2020, enabling consumers to make fewer visits to the doctor, Brooke said.

“Incorporating patient-generated health data with AI will make it easier for clinicians to monitor patients from afar and the increasing use of telemedicine consults will help prescreen patients and potentially avoid the need for in-person attention,” he predicted. “As a result, patient obligation will likely hit a critical point in 2020, but due to the presidential elections, policy makers likely will not act on it until 2022.”

Twitter: @SiwickiHealthIT
Email the writer: bill.siwicki@himssmedia.com
Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS Media publication.

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