We’re leaving what I’ve called the Golden Age of EHR. It’s been an exciting time to be part of the healthcare IT and EHR industry that’s been fueled by $36 billion of EHR incentive money. As the EHR incentive money comes to an end and most organizations have adopted an EHR, what’s coming next for healthcare IT and EHR?
This is a really important question to ask yourself as you evaluate your career in healthcare IT. Keeping up and ahead of the trends is key to a successful career. While this is true in any job, it is particularly true in the ever changing world of technology.
As I look into my crystal ball, I still see EHR at the core of the future of healthcare IT. However, a plethora of external apps will start working with the EHR to extract value from the data within the EHR. This will mean that those who have deep understanding of the EHR software and the data within the EHR software will be at a big advantage.
We’re already seeing this start to play out in the world of healthcare analytics. Those who implemented the EHR and understand how and where the EHR data is stored are starting to leverage that expertise in healthcare analytics programs. One challenge these healthcare analytics programs face is knowing what to do with the data to make it valuable and actionable for the organization. There aren’t a great set of healthcare analytics best practices that can just be applied to every healthcare system. Although, maybe we’ll get there one day.
Another example of this is in the various ACO and value based reimbursement programs out there. In some ways, these are a subset of the very broad healthcare analytics market. Although, these are very specific uses of healthcare analytics. Every ACO and value based reimbursement program I’ve seen requires a deep understanding of the data within the EHR and how to make sense of that data. These programs are just getting started and will become an extremely important part of every organizations reimbursement.
Another area to keep your eye on is a wave of consumer generated healthcare data. What’s still not clear is how healthcare organizations are going to collect data from patients (consumers). What is clear is that patients are quickly using a variety of health sensors to collect data about their health. As health sensors continue to be more broadly embedded in our smart phones, this will accelerate the collection of health data even more. Incorporating that data and making sense of that data is going to be an important part of the future of healthcare.
These are just a few ideas on where we’re heading after EHR. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on where we’re headed in the comments. Are you ready and preparing for this future and what it means for your career?