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Ten Digital Trends for Healthcare in 2018

Alexa Cushman
December 14, 2017

Looking for the Top Digital Trends in Healthcare for 2019?

The approach of a new year often brings thoughts of taking control of your health and putting your best foot forward for the year ahead. In 2018 there will be a host of new and improved technologies and resources to facilitate the care continuum.

In this edition of our Twelve Days of Digital Transformationblog series, I take a look at ten of the digital trends we're predicting will make a transformative impact on healthcare in 2018.

Healthcare Gets Moving

1. Mobile Healthcare and Telehealth on the Rise

With a majority of consumers connected throughout the day (and night) on a mobile device like their phone or tablet, it's not surprising that people want efficient healthcare they can access via these devices. Whether looking for a doctor on-demand, talking with a physician via an app instead of going into an urgent care, or being able to check benefits coverage on a healthcare payer app... mobility and telehealth are what patients and members want. To respond to this demand, mobile digital access will be an increasingly high priority for healthcare organizations in 2018.

2. Provider Network Directories Go Real-time

Speaking of benefits coverage being available on a member mobile device, it's not only important that it's there, but that it's always accurate. One of the critical objectives every healthcare payer will focus on, if they haven't already, is having an up-to-date directory of in-network providers in 2018. Before a recent procedure, I tried to ensure that the anesthesiologist my physician would be using would indeed be in my network. With an always up-to-date directory of which hospitals and clinicians are in-network, my process could have been much simpler, and would have resulted in my looking upon both my doctor, and my insurance company, in a much more favorable light.

Actionable Data Drives Performance

3. Data Quality Remains a Medical Necessity

On the same page as real-time, accurate data, clinicians need the same afforded to their patients so providers can give the highest quality of care andavoid potential mistakes. This may not necessarily be a new trend for 2018, but it's one that remain a top priority. Healthcare systems need to get on top of eliminating batch processing and have the most current electronic medical records (EMRs) always available for patient care.

4. Wearable Devices Help Take Control

More and more, people are taking control of their own healthcare with wearable fitness trackers, such as FitBits and Apple Watches. These devices prove to be great incentives for tracking activity, water intake, even sleep habits. In fact, hospitals are beginning to use Fitbit devices to help motivate patients to get out of bed after surgery and go home sooner after knee replacements, hip replacements, and other surgeries. I know I love my FitBit buzzing at me to get moving when I haven't taken a step in over 60 minutes. Much like the discounted gym memberships that many healthcare payers have provided for years, wearable devices will be capitalized on for members to take control of their own health, and thus, cut down on premium costs. Not to mention, physicians can then use this data to help patients put together a healthcare plan that can prevents future issues and ensures healthy behaviors.

5. Maintaining Security for Device Management

With healthcare systems supporting an ever wider range of devices, whether it be desktop computers, tablets, laptops, or mobile phones, organizations will focus on keeping all these devices on the same page. This means, making sure system-wide security updates maintain device availability, especially since hospitals need access to data 24 hours a day. On that same note, however, it also means keeping these devices secure from potential security risks should they be misplaced and fall into the wrong hands, or ensuring users are only handling data on a secured wireless network.

Customer Satisfaction Remains a Top Priority

6. Employee Satisfaction Supports Customer Satisfaction

If you want to be a top performing healthcare business, you have to recruit and retain the best employees. Employee satisfaction goes hand-in-hand with having systems that make serving patients and working collaboratively with all employees vital. Whether it's having the latest patient EMR's available, or the janitorial staff having a clear view of which rooms need cleaning, and when in order to not repeat their work so they can be efficient, employee satisfaction through digital transformation matters.

7. Patient and Member Satisfaction Require Customer-Centricity

As in any line of business, when healthcare customers are happy, everyone benefits; this will push organizations toward customer-centric views. With a single, easy to use interface that allows both payers and providers to be on the same page in regards to their customers' care, it undoubtedly results in happier patients and members who require less intervention, and are able to live happy, healthy lives.

8.Price Transparency Depends on Digital

One of the key ways for healthcare organizations to provide satisfaction to consumers is to provide price transparency, both before and after care. A few years ago, I tried to find out the cost of a routine surgery I needed at various healthcare providers in the area, and could not receive a clear answer. Even after the fact, I found the billing on my claim for the procedure to be confusing. For their part, healthcare organizations are coming to the realization that transparency in the age of choice is critical and to deliver this will require investment in digital improvements.

Heightened Focus on Serving the Care Continuum

9. Engaging Baby Boomers

With the aging of the Baby Boomer generation, organizations are focusing on having to re-engineer how they deliver healthcare to their older patients and members. Each day until the year 2030, roughly 10,000 Baby Boomers will turn 65. With more people living longer, how organizations look at geriatric healthcare needs to be re-examined. Using a low-code platform approach for integration is becoming an ideal way to track the additional resources and costs that come along with an increasingly aging population.

10. Continuous Care Management

It's important that a patient's journey for optimal care continues well after they walk out of their physician's office or check out of the hospital. With connected enterprise systems, healthcare organizations are able to close the loop for patient satisfaction and lower costs that come with unnecessary follow-ups. This requires that healthcare organizations fine-tune their focus in the coming year on having all systems be inter-connected, whether it's home healthcare, post emergency care, or acute care.

The Year Ahead

"Digital technology like the Appian platform allows organizations to make real-time changes to business and clinical workflows as needed, saving time and cost."

-Fritz Haimberger, global industry lead of the healthcare provider business at Appian

The coming year is packed with digital potential for healthcare organizations, and Appian is at the forefront of these ten trends listed above, and even more. Learn more about how Appian is leading current healthcare organizations forward and stay tuned for what's ahead in 2018.

Alexa Cushman

Industry Marketing Manager-Healthcare and Life Sciences