How Healthcare Technology Is Evolving to Serve Today’s Organizations

Megan Williams

Somewhere in the early 2010s we crossed a line in smartphone adoption. What used to be considered tech-forward and innovative became ubiquitous. Then users started demanding more.

Healthcare technology is in a similar position. Thanks to a mix of federal programs and market encouragement, adoption of electronic health records (EHRs) and certified health IT (HIT) has been pushed well into the 90th percentile in both hospital and practice environments, notes the ONC. Consumerization has transformed patient-facing solutions, and new advancements in business intelligence have opened up a world of possibilities and efficiencies on the back end.

Healthcare technology is maturing to a point where it answers both present and future challenges in the industry. Let’s take a look at what’s behind that shift.

EHRs Are Being Optimized

Investments in EHRs have slowed considerably and more than 60% of hospitals report that they aren’t realizing optimal value from their systems, according to RevCycleIntelligence. That’s largely due to the cost of software and implementation, discouraging the growth we expect to see. But, that doesn’t mean growth isn’t happening at all. Cloud-based EHR adoption has continued the momentum, but the real advancement in EHR tech might be happening in the optimization space.

While implementation involves juggling complex provider organizations spread across facility types and even physical locations, optimization can provide a higher ROI after a large investment.

Optimization starts after a system is stabilized, and allows organizations to analyze data pulled from the EHR and other technologies. This information can be used to identify pain points, improve workflows and better address the needs of sub-specialties, departments and physicians, including stakeholders that might not have received proper attention during implementation because of budget and staffing constraints.

AI Is Getting More Targeted

We’ve been promised that AI would remove every inefficiency in healthcare for a while now, but we’re just starting to understand what that looks like on a practical level.

Clinical decision support vendors have been incorporating AI and machine learning to boost the human clinicians’ skill levels and enhance diagnostic decision-making, even extending to prescription drug support and integrating clinical decision support into EHR workflows.

For physicians, it’s also augmenting their work through support like point-of-care learning where it can deliver information immediately as clinical questions emerge, helping doctors stay up-to-date on medical developments in a personalized way.

But the most immediate application lies on the less glamorous revenue cycle space, where it’s being used to cut costs, improve A/R and bolster the financial health of all healthcare organizations.

Check-in Tech Is Catching On

We live in a world of self-service where people can buy cars from the comfort of their couch, so it should be no surprise that the healthcare experience might be moving in the direction of convenience — especially with the check-in process.

As the Medical Group Management Association notes, we’re seeing check-in options range from mobile apps for ER reservations to kiosks and tablets in hospital reception areas that streamline check-in and even allow you to pay bills. The result is an experience that looks a lot like Target’s, but also reduces work for overloaded front desk staff.

Next-Gen Telehealth Is Emerging

Telehealth and telemedicine might be decades old, but the most promising applications are just starting to emerge thanks to some crossovers with other technology. Scalability has always been an issue in telehealth, but machine learning and chatbots are stepping into the remote patient monitoring space to enhance clinicians’ abilities to gauge patient improvement.

In another corner of the AI world, chatbots are being used to communicate with patients and create higher relative value than human personnel, which is an important trend in healthcare technology to keep an eye on over time.

We’re no longer looking at solutions with one type of technology, rather an environment that combines multiple technologies to address the industry’s needs.

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