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:
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.
Software as a medical device (SaMD) is defined by the International Medical Device Regulators Forum as “software intended to be used for one or more medical purposes that perform these purposes without being part of a hardware medical device.” SaMD is developed at a much faster pace than traditional medical devices, and may require frequent updates, as opposed to hardware devices that typically are updated every few years. While SaMD and medical devices are clearly different and evolve at completely different paces, the same regulatory approval process currently applies to both types of technology. Using the same process for both is akin to forcing a square peg into a round hole – it is not going to work because one size does not fit all, especially in healthcare.
This is a watershed moment in healthcare. New technologies are constantly in development to help treat and prevent previously incurable conditions, and improve current processes. From leadless pacemakers to mobile applications that advance telehealth access, digital innovation is at an all-time high. The problem is that our current speed of regulatory approval for these innovations simply cannot keep up.
While many groundbreaking technologies are being created, their full promise is not being realized because they are not being approved quickly enough to be implemented and adopted by health systems. The FDA regulatory process has long been a matter of contention. However, now that the rate of innovation is increasing, things need to change accordingly. By working together to streamline this regulatory process, technology will arrive to the market faster and propel the healthcare industry forward.
Over the last few years, the healthcare industry has undergone an incredible revolution. Mobility solutions deployed across the care continuum are providing higher quality patient care. The shift from fee-for-service to fee-for-value – no matter how the political environment affects the market – is prevailing. Beyond that, innovation and digital tools are supporting this shift. In the U.S. alone, there are more than 6,000 medical device companies. Around 80 percent of them have fewer than 50 employees. Creative solutions to longstanding problems abound.
In healthcare, we constantly seek new ways to deliver and improve care. Countless ideas have already been tried and tested, and people often think that coming up with the next great innovation requires thinking ‘outside of the box.’ This notion has been instilled in most of us from a young age, and those in all industries – not just healthcare – often strive to show their creativity through this approach. However, in my experience, thinking outside of the box doesn’t always lead to the best new ideas. Sometimes, we need to focus on thinking better inside the box.
Across the country, health care organizations are re-envisioning how to deliver care. Major health systems like Lahey Health are seeking out new solutions that allow us to transition from episodic care to wellness – minimizing the impact of disease and managing the health of populations more effectively. At the same time, patients continue to demand more from their care providers. We now must bring care to patients at the time and location of their choosing, and this is the beginning of the consumerization of healthcare. These shifts require technology that can provide more comprehensive and context-aware views of patients’ data, support for collaborative care across the continuum, and allow health systems to scale their delivery of care in new ways. Consequently, CIOs face constant challenges to seek out the most effective technologies that will ensure an organization’s vision can come to fruition.