2017 was a roller-coaster ride for healthcare, marked by exciting innovation, damaging cyberattacks, periods of lulls and disruptive change. As we enter a new year, it is important to celebrate the industry’s successes in 2017, and reflect on the ways these changes, incidents, and regulations both pushed health IT forward and established a foundation for 2018. From the consumerization of healthcare, to the implications of a changing reimbursement structure, to increases in health IT M&A, here is what three AirStrip executives and consultants identified as the most impactful change in health IT last year:
“What helps push health IT forward is positive economic news, and stable reimbursement rules, which loosen up health systems’ spending confidence. However, the biggest issue in the market right now is that every hospital in the country is trying to break-even on Medicare reimbursement. This is causing them to cut costs, eliminate executive positions and, in general, pull back on spending. So, while the rules are not changing significantly, this past year has unfortunately been relatively weak on spending for IT.” – Nancy Pratt, Chief Operating Officer, AirStrip
“The biggest thing to happen to healthcare IT in 2017 was the advancement of the consumerization of healthcare, and the changing discourse around the patient as a consumer. The rapid and aggressive emergence of consumer giants, such as Amazon and Apple, into the consumer health vendor space is symptomatic of this newfound phenomenon of patient empowerment. The tides are turning in the way the average consumer understands healthcare costs, as they increasingly poke holes in long established practices and drive transparency with their decision-making power. Healthcare is no longer just a piece of one’s employee benefit’s package – it is now a realm of influence, where patients feel empowered to manage their own health, meaningfully engage with providers, and demand greater control over spending and processes. The new age of the educated consumer and the move of consumer-driven companies into the healthcare space will have major implications for the direction of health IT in 2018 – from everyday healthcare access, to overall revenue models.” – Angela Pierce, Chief Financial Officer, AirStrip
“In 2017, many hospitals were conservative in their IT investments due to healthcare reform uncertainties. The shift brought on by new regulations, combined with the increasing pressure from providers for health IT vendors to deliver, is likely responsible for the increase in health IT mergers and partnerships this past year. On the other hand, as healthcare transforms, health systems and vendors alike have a heightened awareness of the importance of interoperability for the industry’s future success.” – Aparna Bala, Clinical Transformation Consultant, AirStrip
With these reflections in mind, what is our wish list for health IT in the New Year? Stay tuned for part two of this series for what AirStrip hopes will happen for the industry in 2018 and why.