3 Health Technologies to Watch

Gienna Shaw, October 18, 2011

Healthcare organizations have checked a lot of technologies off their to-do lists. According to the 2011 HealthLeaders Media Industry Survey of technology leaders, most have or are close to implementing wireless networks (95%), computerized physician order entry (91%), clinical data repositories of current data (88%), data mining of historic data (75%), and electronic health records (89%).

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The 2012 industry survey is currently in the field and results will be published early next year. Will healthcare organizations finally catch up in adopting newer technologies?  Here's my analysis:

1. Telehealth is Up

In this year's survey, 30% of respondents said remote applications are at least three years out—and 13% said either that they're more than five years out, or that they won't pursue them at all. But over the past year, telemedicine has become more widespread for a few reasons. 

Chief among them: Advances in telehealth technology. In the past year, this has meant  faster and more reliable networks, wireless devices, high-definition digital images and video, and other functionalities.

And there's been movement on the legislative front, easing some of the concerns that have been holding telemedicine and remote health back. Earlier this year CMS implemented a new credentialing and privileging process for physicians who provide telemedicine services, for example.

Small and rural hospitals are increasingly driving the telehealth boom, banking on e-visits to improve access in areas with physician shortages, for example. In this year's community and rural healthcare leadership survey, 50% said a shortage of primary care physicians will have a negative or strongly negative impact on their organization; 51% said the same in regard to specialists. Some see telehealth as a solution.

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