In 2014, Health IT Priorities are Changing

The following is a guest blog post by Cliff McClintick, chief operating officer of Doc Halo. Cincinnati-based Doc Halo sets the professional standard for health care communication offering secure messaging for physicians, medical practices, hospitals and healthcare organizations. The Doc Halo secure texting solution is designed to streamline HIPAA-compliant physician and medical clinician sharing of critical patient information within a secure environment.

2014 is a major year for health care, and for more reasons than one.

Of course, some of the most significant reforms of the Affordable Care Act take effect this year, affecting the lives of both patients and providers.

But it’s also a year in which health care institutions will come to grips with IT issues they might have been putting off. Now that many organizations have completed the electronic health record implementations that were consuming their attention and resources, they’re ready to tackle other priorities.

Expect to see issues related to communications, security and the flow of patient information play big in coming months. At Doc Halo, we’re already seeing high interest in these areas.

Here are my predictions for the top health IT trends of 2014:

  • Patient portal adoption. Web-based portals let patients access their health data, such as discharge summaries and lab results, and often allow for communication with the care team. Federal requirements around Meaningful Use Stage 2 are behind this trend, but the opportunity to empower patients is the exciting part. The market for portals will likely approach $900 million by 2017, up from $280 million in 2012, research firm Frost & Sullivan has predicted.
  • Secure text messaging. Doctors often tell us that they send patient information to their colleagues by text message. Unfortunately, this type of data transmission is not HIPAA-compliant, and it can bring large fines. Demand for secure texting solutions will be high in 2014 as health care providers seek communication methods that are quick, convenient and HIPAA-compliant. Doc Halo provides encrypted, HIPAA-compliant secure text messaging that works on iPhone, Android and your desktop computer.
  • Telehealth growth. The use of technology to support long-distance care will increasingly help to compensate for physician shortages in rural and remote areas. The world telehealth market, estimated at just more than $14 billion in 2012, is likely to see 18.5 percent annual growth through 2018, according to research and consultancy firm RNCOS. Technological advances, growing prevalence of chronic diseases and the need to control health care costs are the main drivers.
  • A move to the cloud. The need to share large amounts of data quickly across numerous locations will push more organizations to the cloud. Frost & Sullivan listed growth of cloud computing, used as an enabler of enterprise-wide health care informatics, as one of its top predictions for health care in 2014. The trend could result in more efficient operations and lower costs.
  • Data breaches. Health care is the industry most apt to suffer costly and embarrassing data breaches in 2014. The sector is at risk because of its size — and it’s growing even larger with the influx of patients under the Affordable Care Act — and the introduction of new federal data breach and privacy requirements, according to Experian. This is one prediction that we can all hope doesn’t come true.

To succeed in 2014, health care providers and administrators will need to skillfully evaluate changing conditions, spot opportunities and manage risks. Effective health IT frameworks will include secure communication solutions that suit the way physicians and other clinicians interact today.

Doc Halo, a leading secure physician communication application, is a proud sponsor of the Healthcare Scene Blog Network.

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  • Your blog is really informative. Physicians should also change their practices procedure as changing are come in health in 2014. Your blog is really awesome.

  • Thanks for the kind words Elliot. I’m sure Cliff who wrote the post will appreciate your comments as well.

    I think it’s quite clear to me that change is coming to healthcare. IT is going to become more and more essential to the practice of medicine. Those that don’t evolve with that change will find themselves far behind.

  • I think this article is spot on and think it a good summation. But one thing I have been noticing in the all articles that tend to spot the trends in Healthcare IT is that I think they often miss the whole picture of “a day in the life” of a typical healthcare provider, especially those in the hospital or surgical setting. While Healthcare IT has been growing rapidly in the last few years for patient encounters (push for MU aside) and continues to be an exciting trend, I think this has led many to get on the bandwagon that healthcare providers were stuck in this vast land of “times gone by” while the rest of the world rushed ahead with their “cool toys and apps”. I think in this discussion it remains important to remember that the pace of Healthcare IT and Health Technology NOT related to Muse and EHRs NEVER stopped and physicians/surgeons in this country remain at the cutting edge of technological advances. What is being done in the surgical arena has never stopped evolving and is frankly amazing. “Healthcare IT” tends to be linked to HITECH only and the push by the government for widespread adoption. While I agree this is a massive step in the right direction, to imply that providers were somehow slow to adopt new technologies and trends is a disservice to the profession. Not saying that anyone is saying that here, just I have noticed this trend with reporting in general (and no, I am not a physician, I am actually an EHR PM). I find patient engagement and things like patient portals exciting (from both sides of the desk) but it often pales in regard to what has never stopped evolving with all aspects of patient care that the providers have been learning and providing, long before HITECH even entered the picture. Just an observation. And as the other comment states, I really do enjoy your blog. Thanks for providing such a good source of information.

  • Natalie,
    That’s always been the irony. Doctors used advanced technology to treat patients. They bought the latest iPhones, tablets, etc in their personal life, but somehow in their practices the EHR and other related technology wasn’t adopted. I’ve never really understood why the difference.

    Thanks for your kind words about the blog. Hopefully we can continue to live up to what you describe.

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