Within a decade, IT will transform the way we think of, deliver and receive healthcare. As we look ahead toward that digital transformation, here are three foundational building blocks:
IT interoperability. In order to improve patient care decision making and reduce unnecessary costs, it is critical that all systems can communicate and share data with one another. Clinicians must be able to see the full patient picture in order to make well-informed clinical decisions. Similarly, having the ability to share clinical data has become essential for emerging shared-risk payment models. The Fast Health Interoperability Resources (FHIR) standard should help to make ubiquitous health data sharing a practical reality. Some additional pressure from purchasers of technology not to accept “closed” systems is likely necessary as well.
Learning healthcare systems. This concept, discussed for more than a decade, hinges on “a collaborative approach that shares data and insights across boundaries to drive better, more efficient medical practice and patient care.” With growing stores of “big data” and powerful, AI-enabled analytic capabilities, the learning healthcare system is not only possible, but also inevitable; and as it becomes reality, we will produce a virtuous circle “in which scientific evidence informs clinical practice while data gathered from clinical practice and administrative sources inform scientific investigation.”
Telemedicine. The embrace of new communication technology and mobile devices by healthcare providers and patients alike is catalyzing one of the most significant developments in healthcare. The hospital walls, which once limited the reach of an institution’s clinical expertise and services, are no longer a barrier. Why does a radiologist or neurologist need to physically be at the hospital where a patient is located? Why can’t the top neurologist in San Francisco be working with a radiologist in Chicago for a patient in New York? With telemedicine, they can.
Ultimately, the computer will become as integral and indispensable to patient care as the stethoscope. All constituents in the healthcare ecosystem have a stake in bringing the full value of healthcare IT to life – and all have a role to play in making it happen.
This blog post is based on PatientKeeper’s e-book, Healthcare IT 2017-2022: First Comes Change, Then Comes Value.