Science and medicine continue to advance at an astonishing rate thanks to technological innovation. We have already seen digital health solutions that promise to transform patient care in our lifetime. While these advancements are indeed groundbreaking for the healthcare industry, there are still basic day-to-day care processes in hospitals across the country ripe for improvement by applying technology.
This past year, 2017, has been a challenging year for many industries, and healthcare is certainly no exception. Not only are there major challenges connected to an increasingly aging population and outdated healthcare infrastructure, but the industry is also adapting to the policies associated with a new presidential administration. While technology will continue to be a key part of the future of healthcare, one of the biggest changes will be a shift in mindset from mobile technology to mobile patients.
The number of quality initiatives is rapidly rising in the healthcare industry as stakeholders shift their focus toward the value of patient care. In addition, with the recent implementation of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA), the rules surrounding healthcare reimbursement are being rewritten, incentivizing healthcare providers to prioritize the quality of patient visits over the quantity.
Historically, it has been difficult to achieve consensus on defining quality; therefore, it was not consistently measured. MACRA provides tools to assess quality of care, and lays the foundation for a future in which payers and providers must collaborate in new ways driven by patient data.
As we celebrate National Health IT Week, it is incredible to realize how health technology tools are transforming every facet of patient care. From telehealth, to 3D printers to artificial intelligence, the explosion of personalized health devices redefines the dynamics of patient treatment and interactions.
However, we still fall short in comparison to other industries, particularly in terms of consistent patient information access, and the lack of incentive for industry collaboration to achieve smooth, interoperable data transfers. This week, we strike a balance between applauding our progress, yet refusing to rest on our laurels.
Care delivery best practices are constantly changing to optimize efficiency and safety, and look considerably different compared to just a decade ago. The digital healthcare transformation has ushered in promising opportunities to use technology to improve nurse and clinician workflows, monitor patients remotely, and provide secure paths for communication between care team members.
At first glance, one might think that healthcare is a female-dominated industry. After all, women make up 80 percent of healthcare workers. However, the truth is not so simple. In 2014, only 40 percent of executive roles in healthcare were held by women. Complicating this even further is the fact that on the business-to-business (B2B) side – particularly in newer industry sectors like healthcare IT – women are still finding their footing in leading roles.
Even as more women take on leadership roles today, old ways of thinking still remain. Since healthcare IT is a newer industry, we still have some ground to make up. Perhaps we should start by first acknowledging that an issue exists before we can successfully address it.
We are currently at a crossroads in the healthcare industry. Executives are working overtime to try to figure out how to connect and integrate data to best support clinical practice and patient care management. With health systems concerned about balancing both needs, they now need to figure out how to leverage data to get the best value out of their investment. Improvement and innovation in technology are slowly but surely enhancing the industry, but health systems are constantly being assaulted with software companies trying to sell them something. Thus, healthcare executives are left with the eternal question: Which pieces fit together best to create value and improve patient care?