In 2015, we heard time and time again that the health-care landscape was changing rapidly as we moved from a fee-for-service world to a risk/value-based world. But what does that mean? Essentially, providers used to get paid for doing procedures, and under new health-care regulations they are incentivized to avoid unnecessary procedures. The implications are that providers and health-care networks must move from old siloed systems to interoperable and collaborative frameworks. In 2016, we’ll see a continued move in this direction across health care and particularly medical imaging as new innovations make interoperability a reality.
Here are the top five health care trends to keep your eye on in 2016.
1. Patients seek access to care from anywhere at anytime.
Patient adoption of health-related apps nearly doubled over the last two years. About 32% of consumers had at least one health app on their phones in 2015, up from only 16% in 2013, according to a PwC report. Many are also calling 2016 the year of telemedicine. The global telemedicine market in 2016 is predicted to be $27 billion, with virtual health services making up $16 billion of that amount [BBC Research and Towers Watson].
Particularly, as the tech-savvy millennial generation moves into the medical field, we may see an increase in physicians who both accept and encourage the use of mobile apps to monitor patient health. Over 90% of MDs said that digital health devices will become an important part of their practice, and over half shared a willingness to prescribe medications based off a vital-signs biosensor tool.
2. The cloud will become a core method of enhancing interoperability.
The cloud has already gained wide acceptance by health-care executives, with over 83% using the cloud today. As our health-care system moves in a direction of interoperability, rapid image sharing and storage becomes a priority. Redundant imaging exams owing to lost or missing data pose both a risk to the health of patients and high costs to facilities.
It has also been found that emergency departments using image-enabled health information exchanges (HIEs) were 8.7% less likely to repeat CT scans, 9% less likely to repeat ultrasounds and 13% less likely to repeat chest x-rays. These decreases alone are enough to save $19 million dollars annually across the United States.
In addition, with the rise of telemedicine, individuals in rural areas and even those across the globe may seek a second opinion, but they will need a secure method of quickly sharing images. The cloud can deliver powerful scale and value in these situations. For example, the DICOM Grid Cloud has shown 75% efficiency improvement in sharing and retrieving images. Facilities have also seen a 26% growth in referrals for providers.
3. FDA mandates PACS compliance requirements.
The ability to reliably retrieve a backup copy of imaging data that might be otherwise lost because of hardware/software or network failures is no longer just good practice, it’s a federally mandated requirement. Don’t take the risk! The FDA has warned health-care facilities that in 2016, it may take compliance actions if their PACS fails and all images are lost owing to lack of secure business continuity and/or disaster-recovery plans. A recent Aunt Minnie article cited several compliance issues at mammography facilities over the last few months. One site permanently lost more than 20% of its mammograms, while another is attempting the expensive retrieval of more than 6,000 lost mammograms.
The FDA said that proper investment in PACS infrastructure, including cloud-based archiving solutions, could prevent the catastrophic loss of images. A cloud PACS solution uses a vendor offsite to digitally store images that are automatically streamed to the cloud. The vendor takes ownership of managing the security settings through an encryption technology and provides an automated storage and disaster-recovery program.
4. The baby-boomer generation will have a continued impact on health care.
By 2030, over 75 million Americans will be over the age of 65. Thanks to health advancements, this generation is living longer than its predecessors and with more chronic disease. It’s also highly subject to falls and various orthopedic injuries. Investments in technology can help with patient flow in hospitals and allow for greater flexibility among patients and doctors alike. Hospitals are even citing an interest among boomers in mobile health care, and patient portals have been one such advancement that enhances the workflow between doctors and patients.
If doctors and hospitals can provide individuals with health technology, education and resources, they can become more capable of self-diagnosing, avoiding unnecessary ER and doctor visits and seeking medical care and/or alerting their physicians when critical.
5. Security remains a primary concern.
Cybersecurity will remain a primary concern for both patients and providers in 2016. According to PwC, nearly 40% of customers said they would abandon or reconsider using a health organization if it were hacked.
When researching cloud-based solutions, it’s important to thoroughly examine the security features offered by your vendor. Questions you may want to ask include, “Are you HIPAA compliant?” and “Are your role based-permissions for users?” Moreover, you may want to ask, “Are your detailed audits and activity logs? How exactly is PHI kept secure?”
About the Author
As CEO of DICOM Grid, Morris Panner leads the company in its mission to build the next-generation diagnostic imaging platform and enable higher quality, more cost-effective health care. Morris is an active voice in enterprise and cloud software focused on the services and health-care verticals. He has served as the chair of the Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA) and is a frequent contributor to business, health-care and technology forums and publications. Before DICOM Grid, Morris built and sold an industry-leading business-process-software company, OpenAir, to NetSuite (NYSE:N). He has a BA from Yale University and a JD from Harvard.