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Top Digital Healthcare Trends for 2019

Alexa Cushman
January 16, 2019

As 2019 kicks off, it's safe to say there are going to be a few trends leading the way in the digital health space. When you look across the board at these trends, the majority have a common theme:

Improving Patient and Member Outcomes.

With many healthcare organizations adopting a Value-Based Care model, the need to improve patient outcomes and reduce hospital re-admittance numbers is heightened even further. Technology holds many of the keys to making this a reality:digital healthcare trends 2019 image

    • Artificial Intelligence (AI): In 2018, a major breakthrough study showed that AI could detect skin cancer better than doctors. This study, published in Annals of Oncology, acknowledged that the testing was not being done on actual patients, but instead dermoscopic images which could skew the physicians' work. However, the study is just the tipping point of how AI can help detect, and prevent, life threatening diseases.

    In 2019, expect more work with AI, and more healthcare organizations putting their dollars towards clinical trials management and monitoring in order to develop further potentially life-saving technology. AI and predictive analytics have proven solutions that can help improve patient outcomes.

    • Low-Code: With the need for more solutions in the coming year, healthcare organizations will be seeking low-code solutions for speed and flexibility. Low-code development can allow healthcare organizations to make changes in real-time to serve patients and members on the spot, and stay up-to-date on changing regulations.

    • Digital Health: In 2019, more people will be using virtual tools to answer their healthcare questions, or even seek a diagnosis, rather than stepping foot into their doctors office, reducing re-admittance rates and potentially cutting costs for both patients and healthcare organizations.

    Over the past year, there have been an increased number of virtual clinic solutions available where patients can be treated through video conferencing for ailments such as sinus infections, conjunctivitis, and even influenza, rather than going to an urgent care; and using these apps has become more mainstream.

    Additionally, more and more patients are reaching out to their physicians through online messaging tools and portals for things such as questions on medications or procedure follow up, rather than scheduling appointments that cost more time and money for both parties.

    • Population Health: Technology will play a major role in population health as the American population ages, especially from two generational standpoints: Millennialsand Baby Boomers.

    Millennials are more inclined to seek convenient, technology-friendly care, such as the digital health solutions listed above, in an easy-to-use platform. Rather than "toughing it out" or waiting until a medical situation requires emergency care, they are more likely to seek preventive health measures when technology makes it easier to "self-serve."

    Meanwhile, as the baby boomer generation ages, their need for convenient care increases. A 2018 article published by the Boston Globe shows hip and knee replacements in the United States have more than doubled between 2000 and 2014. With these procedures, patients often face 4-6 weeks of recovery time before they achieve the optimal results they were seeking to obtain in the first place. During this recovery time, they need clinicians available to answer questions, and copious amounts of rehabilitation. Virtual tools can help make this process easier, especially for those not within a quick drive of a rehab facility or without transportation resources to get them there.

    • Blockchain: Blockchain was a hot topic for healthcare in 2018, and that will carry into 2019. The subject is so front and center right now that HIMSS has set up a Blockchain in Healthcare Task Force for the coming year, covering topics such as interoperability and security.

    As healthcare organizations further embrace digital, and specifically blockchain, there are many areas of opportunity, including claims processing from a payer perspective and improving the exchange of patient information and data from a provider view. Blockchain is a definite way of the future when it comes to increasing productivity and operative ability across healthcare organizations.

    • Intelligent Contact Center: Even with more and more people using digital health tools to be in touch with their payers and providers, contacting these entities via telephone is sometimes unavoidable. Right now, healthcare organizations are working even harder to make these interactions fast and easy. An intelligent contact center can help lead to more satisfied patients and members who ultimately get the resources they need quickly.

    In 2019, it's more important than ever that healthcare organizations' contact centers provide a superior level of customer service.

    • Big Data: From a technology standpoint, big data will play a heavy role in healthcare in 2019. According to Healthcare Informatics, 99 percent of hospitals across the United States use electronic medical records (EMRs) now, and some use more than one system, which can have its share of risks and benefits, especially when it comes to patient care. With all this data, further solutions are needed in order to ensure it is being used to help improve patient care.

    • Data Privacy: With the increased amount of data that is circulating within the healthcare industry, member and patient data privacy is more important than ever. This includes segregation of duties to ensure only the necessary members of a patient's care team are privy to his/her private health information, and ensuring HIPAA compliance is maintained. With HIPAA's main goal to regulate the security and privacy of Protected Health Information (PHI), it's essential that healthcare organizations guarantee that this sensitive information sit on a HIPAA-compliant solution offering like the Appian Cloud.

While this listing may only be a snippet of the trends we're already seeing come to fruition here in the new year, there is little question that most financial expenditures for payers and providers will fall into one of these macro categories. Choosing technology to enable your healthcare enterprise to ensure patient, member, and clinician satisfaction is not an easy task, but Appian is here to help navigate those waters with you.

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