Datica Blog

December 21, 2015

5 Predictions for Digital Health in 2016

Travis Good, MD

Co-founder & Chief Technology Officer

Prediction posts are fun, despite my relatively low batting average for success. The hardest part about making predictions in healthcare is timing. And timing can be everything. Lots of predictions, like we'll see X% risk-based or value-based care contracts, are hard to deny but quantifying them in terms of when these changes will tip in the industry is the challenge. With that disclaimer, below are my predictions for healthcare in 2016, with a bend towards healthcare technology.

1. HITRUST For the Win

As we wrote about last week, HITRUST Certification will be a core requirement for business associates and partners of many large covered entities like United, Humana, and Anthem. This announcement, made last month, has already started to have a significant impact in the industry. Catalyze has several customers that have received letters requiring that they start the process of obtaining HITRUST Certification. Additionally, we are finalizing a contract for Catalyze as a business associate for a large insurer and our security review in that process consisted of us sending our HITRUST Certification (yes, that's it). HITRUST Certification also ties to a broader trend to increase focus on cybersecurity. As more covered entities begin requiring HITRUST Certification, which is happening more and more everyday through letters to existing business associates and as part of new contracting processes, HITRUST will become the standard compliance framework that people seek to streamline sales and implementations. Shameless plug – Catalyze is HITRUST Certified and can accelerate your path to certification.

2. Toning back the hype on tech-only

mHealth apps are wonderful and potentially very powerful but they aren't going to fix healthcare or health in the US on their own. Success in healthcare is going to require more than an app. It's going to require a strategy into how you get that app into the hands of the right patient at the right time, how you get that patient to care enough to use the app, and how you monitor app usage to assure people don't fall off the radar. This year, we're going to see a reaction from the industry in which buyers (hospitals and payers mostly) expect app makers to be more sophisticated about how apps fit into the current and evolving healthcare system.

3. Finally finding an ROI for EHRs

EHRs are here to stay. The majority of providers now use EHRs. Today EHRs are the main clinical data repository and the center of clinical workflows. Now that we've largely completed the adoption stage of EHRs, the second and third wave of EHR implementations are now coming. The second wave is optimizing the EHR and use of the EHR and the third wave is extending the EHR with new tech/data enabled services. We're seeing new tech-enabled services for things like clinical communications, patient engagement, care management, and telemedicine as add-ons to EHRs and not simply standalone solutions.

3.1 Interoperability is a requirement

I numbered this prediction as 3.1 but it could really be a 2.1/3.1. It's becoming clear that implementing new technology or services at health systems requires a good plan for integrating with an EHR. Integration can't just be an afterthought. It needs to add value of the technology or service. Removing the roadblock of integration is the key to accelerating adoption. in 2016 integrating with an EHR is not a differentiator, it's a requirement.

4. Telemedicine finds its way into existing practices

Telemedicine is gaining traction. To date telemedicine has largely been outsourced as an add-on or as a convenient and cheap way to access an anonymous provider. We will definitely keep seeing that trend in telemedicine, but I think we're going to start seeing telemedicine as an integrated part of existing practices. There have been technologies to do this but we're now starting to get to the tipping point as some telemedicine platforms are solving key challenges around integrating telemedicine into existing schedules as well as reimbursement for telemedicine. I think specialty practices will be the big adopters of this type of integrated telemedicine in 2016.

5. Asynchronous Telemedicine takes off

I remember when I first heard about Zipnosis about 6 years ago. At the time I thought it was brilliant, and I still do. I think the healthcare industry has finally caught on to how effectively asynchronous telemedicine can reduce costs and help adhere to evidence-based treatment protocols. And it succeeds without necessarily disrupting clinical workflows. I think we're going to see these asynchronous services take off and offered by more and more integrated health systems, ACOs, payers, and employers.

What do you think? What did I miss? Tweet us your thoughts.