A View from Huntzinger

2021 – 2022 Healthcare IT Outlook

While COVID-19 will unfortunately remain in the forefront for the remainder of the year and into 2022 as well, the health IT landscape will continue to evolve. The pandemic pushes key initiatives and new ideas to optimize, ultimately, affecting the entire healthcare IT environment.  

Sometimes called telemedicine, telehealth offers care without an in-person office visit. Primarily done through your computer, tablet, or smartphone, these virtual visits are growing in popularity. Though in-person visits may be necessary in certain circumstances, there are many benefits of telehealth care:

  • Reduced exposure to COVID-19 as well as other contagious diseases
  • Anywhere, anytime health care – at home, at work or even in your car
  • Decreased travel time, time off from work and the need for childcare
  • Shortened wait times
  • Increased access to specialists 

Remote Patient Monitoring
Often abbreviated as RPM, remote patient monitoring – or management – is a method of healthcare delivery that uses the latest advances in information technology to gather patient data outside of traditional healthcare settings. RPM is about moving healthcare out of the traditional setting and into the house where people live, work and play every day. RPM uses technologies to build the bridge between the traditional physical setting of healthcare and where people actually live every day.

Artificial Intelligence
Artificial intelligence (AI) is changing the way clinical providers make decisions. It plays a key role in clinical decision support, as it delivers data to providers to aid in diagnosing, treatment planning and population health management. Artificial intelligence has the potential to decrease the administrative burden on clinicians with improved clinical decision software. With natural language processing, the technology can help translate clinical notes in EHRs, meaning clinicians only need to enter data once. AI-enabled software also provides access to data from multiple sources including medical images, EHR data and even consumer devices like activity trackers, smartphones and other connected medical devices. This communication has the ability to transform health outcomes and create more personalized care.

Digital Transformation 
Digital health connects and empowers people to manage their health and wellness. Provider teams can work within these flexible and digitally enabled care environments to strategically leverage tools, technologies and services to transform care delivery. In the future, health care will focus on the outcome of the individual while building an ecosystem that provides safe and secure care when- and wherever it is needed. 

Mergers and Acquisitions 
Right now, the merger and acquisition activity of health systems has severely slowed down. However, once COVID-19 levels off and strategies shift, there will be pent up demand for mergers and acquisitions. On the contrary, there has been a flurry of activity in the HIT vendor space with many acquisitions occurring. As the market focuses itself, there will continue to be more vendor mergers and acquisitions.

Clinician Burnout  
All signs are pointing to a clinician – especially for nurses – shortage in 2022 and beyond.  The longitudinal EHR was meant to ease the burden of provider documentation; however, it is being seen that “alert fatigue” and increases in documentation justification may be contributing to burnout and, ultimately, shortages in the near future.

Revenue Cycle
Value-based care is pushing healthcare to reassess and transform their revenue cycle management (RCM) capabilities. By modernizing their organization’s RCM capabilities, CIOs are aiming to achieve the benefits of organic revenue growth. Clinically driven revenue cycle functionality increases with inpatient and ambulatory EHRs as a charge is dropped via the EHR when clinicians document patient care. 

It is predicted that the healthcare industry will spend more than $125 billion on cybersecurity products and services from 2020 – 2025. With hospitals and medical practices focused on the pandemic, cybercriminals are taking advantage due to outdated IT systems, fewer cybersecurity protocols and IT staff, valuable data and the pressing need for medical practices and hospitals to pay ransoms quickly to regain data.