5 health IT trends set to shake up industry

'Patients can actually begin to care for themselves – relieve the burden of the delivery system and get a better result'
By Erin McCann
10:57 AM

For those healthcare providers still resistant to technology, you've got a problem on your hands: You're going to be left behind. This is where healthcare it going – with or without you.

That's according to a new Accenture report, Healthcare Technology Vision 2015, which lays out five key trends in the industry that show adaptation might be the best business model.

First, Accenture analysts are calling it the "platform revolution" – that is the ever-increasing ubiquity of mobile and cloud platforms that far surpass merely the ability to track in real-time a patient's health. Rather, this is a platform that addresses interoperability, "that captures the data from disparate sources such as wearables, phones and glucometers, and pulls it all together to give a patient and caregiver a holistic and real-time view of the patient's health," they write.

[See also: Healthcare to enter 'third wave of digital'.]

The second trend, as the report emphasizes, is around the "outcome economy." In other words, "it's about delivering results." Hardware, nowadays, brings with it new intelligence. Better intelligence than ever before. And that's going to make patient data accessible with a mere click. It's going to give patients the convenience, and it's ultimately going to lead to better outcomes, according to the report.

The third trend is around data, what's billed in the report as the "intelligent enterprise" – essentially a "data explosion" that will lead to tremendous clinical outcomes opportunities.

In fact, big data has gotten so big that some 41 percent of healthcare executives say the data volume their organization manages has increased by a whopping 50 percent just from a year ago.

Tomorrow, Accenture officials say, this trend will turn into an EMR including a "lifetime's worth of data"; it will be used regularly to predict ER visits. Consumers will be able to snap a photo of a skin rash and have a diagnosis shortly. Considering this trend, it may come as surprising that still only 28 percent of docs say they routinely use CPOE systems.

Coming it at No. 4 is the "Internet of me" trend – that is personalized medicine. And as more healthcare organizations invest in these technologies and system capabilities, they're seeing positive results. In fact, an overwhelming 73 percent of health execs surveyed say they've seen ROI after investments in personalization technologies.

The last trend may make some feel a bit uneasy. And it's about the emergence of machines. It's the "workforce re-imagined." Think digital self-scheduling, sharing your own electronic medical record, training machines and connecting with physicians via social platforms.

According to Accenture data, 66 percent of health systems in the U.S. will have self-scheduling by the start of 2020. And nearly half of health execs strongly agree that within three years, they'll need to focus on training machines just as much as training employees. What does this mean exactly? Just think algorithms, machine learning and intelligent software.

"Patients can actually begin to care for themselves – relieve the burden of the delivery system and get a better result," says Kaveh Safavi, MD, global managing director of Accenture's healthcare business, in a video announcing the report. "That's truly workforce reimagined, because now you've made the patient part of their own care-giving team, and the technology makes it possible."

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