Healthcare News & Insights

IT trend all hospitals should track in 2015

Health IT has already seen a huge expansion in recent years, largely due to government incentives, payor demands and patient needs. And 2015 will be no different. 

507271659 (1)But with so many different apps, software and new clinical equipment flooding the healthcare industry, how can hospital leaders pick out which ones are helpful and which ones are hype?

IT trends to watch

To help hospital leaders understand which health IT trends they should keep tabs on, the ECRI institute has compiled a list of the most important ones for 2015.

The nonprofit healthcare research group’s list is intended to give providers insight into the pros and cons of emerging IT.

Some of the trends it expects will make the biggest impacts:

  • Disinfection robots: Portable systems with ultraviolet-C lights and hydrogen peroxide vapors to aid with other infection-control procedures.
  • Middleware: A kind of software which allows providers to prioritize alarms and reduce alarm fatigue.
  • Telehealth: ECRI expects telehealth will continue to expand and evolve as clinicians consider how to develop the tool more strategically.

Many of the trends will provide exciting opportunities for hospitals, but telehealth may be the one hospitals should take the most interest in. And it’s not just ECRI that thinks so.

Touting telehealth

In a recent Forbes article, Skip Fleshman, a healthcare advisor and senior partner at venture capital firm Assest Management Ventures, lays out why he thinks wider telehealth use will be 2015’s biggest health IT trend.

While working with healthcare leaders across the country to identify effective digital health investments, Fleshman’s seen that execs are most excited about the potential for telehealth to fill clinical needs, cut costs and meet patients’ demands for more convenient care.

Telehealth has already been around for several years though, so why does Fleshman think 2015 will be the year for remote care delivery?

Several reasons:

  • better internet connections, which provide improved video-chatting capabilities
  • mobile devices, which allow patients to consult doctors anywhere and on their own time
  • increased use of electronic health records, which give doctors wider access to patient information, and
  • the introduction of asynchronous messaging to telehealth, which patients are becoming more comfortable using and which is more time-efficient for physicians.

The biggest hurdle to telemedicine is covering the cost, providers tell Fleshman. However, that could change soon. Medicare and Medicaid have started to cover remotely-delivered care for chronic care management and other services. And as more payors begin reimbursing hospitals based on outcomes and care efficiency, Fleshman believes telehealth will become a more widely accepted and paid tool.

Providers that want to begin leveraging telehealth should first make sure they have sufficient equipment for video chatting with patients.

It may also be worthwhile to roll out telehealth services slowly, since not all patients are interested and not all services are covered. Examine your patient mix to see who may benefit the most from telehealth services, and gauge their interest in remote care.

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