David Kibbe, MD, CEO at DirectTrust, which offers the Direct Project secure messaging software, believes five overarching trends will influence the health information technology industry during 2017. His opinions are personal and do not reflect those of member organizations within DirectTrust.
Policy changes: Efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act and move Medicare toward fixed contributions could lead to months of inaction, during which investments in health IT and new innovations may lag.
IT investment: While uncertainty discourages change, Kibbe doesn’t see major shocks to the health IT economy. “The themes of using health IT to improve care coordination, to manage patient populations through better collection and data use, and the value of advances in telemedicine will continue to be heard and supported by both the private sector and the federal government in a bipartisan fashion,” he says. Further, the newly enacted 21st Century Act will increase the transparency of health IT vendors and their products, while also discouraging the blocking of health information.
Value-based care: Kibbe sees momentum in value-based care and risk-sharing arrangements to influence policies on electronic health records; including the possibility of Meaningful Use Stage 3 being replaced by some component of the MIPS program for most physicians. Medicare and Medicaid payment reforms become the drivers behind incentives to use health IT, “with much less policy momentum behind the adoption of ‘healthIT for its own sake.’”
Security improvement: Look for more use of encryption, authentication and identity management technologies. “It is simply shocking to witness the ransoming and accompanying breaches of healthcare data currently taking place,” Kibbe contends. “Remediation of this situation will be one of the major stories of 2017.”
Emerging technologies: What happens when technology to aggregate health data from multiple providers comes under the control of patients to use for their own clinical guidance? That is coming quickly via telemedicine, the FHIR interoperability standard, blockchain, wearables and personal health record portals. Technology giants such as Microsoft, Apple, Google, IBM, Facebook and Twitter will team with providers to cover specific diseases and conditions, Kibbe predicts.
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