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8 Digital Health Predictions from HIMSS Forecast

By Mandy Roth  
   January 31, 2019

The report examines how consumer pressure is changing the industry and which trends will gain the greatest traction in the year ahead.

2019 will be a pivotal year for innovation, according to predictions in a report from HIMSS, 2019 Healthcare Trends Forecast: The Beginning of a Consumer-Driven Reformation, along with a need for digital health innovators to demonstrate more tangible results.

The document features input from leaders at HIMSS and its affiliated innovation arms, Healthbox, Health 2.0, and PCHAlliance. The forecast aims to provide perspectives that will lead to better clinical and financial outcomes.

“Consumer pressure is driving a disruptive technology-enabled shift in healthcare today," says Hal Wolf, HIMSS President and CEO in the report. "Digital health technologies are beginning to deliver on their promise to help providers understand individual consumer preferences and provide personalized care that effectively coordinates care throughout the broader health ecosystem. By fully realizing the potential of information and technology, we can create an ever-increasingly informed and empowered global community of innovators, care providers, and patients.”

The HIMSS report address four key trends: digital health implications and applications, consumer impact, financial and demographic challenges, and issues of data governance and policy.

"Digital health tools have been riding the peak of the hype cycle for several years now," according to the forecast, "but 2019 will be the year that digital health will need to answer for the way technology will increase access to care and narrow gaps in care and coverage."

Here are eight takeaways from the report related to digital  innovation:

1.  Government Walls Come Tumbling Down

Government barriers to innovation are subsiding. As evidence, the report points to the FDA Precertification (Pre-Cert) Pilot Program and CMS Innovation Center.

2.  Policy Changes Will Enhance Speed to Market

The authors also predict a more aggressive stance by policymakers to speed to market tools that increase patient access, improve healthcare efficiencies, decrease provider burden, and create new pathways for care delivery that don’t require hospital stays.

3.  Artificial Intelligence Delivers Real Solutions to Population Health

Population health will get a boost from broader adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to improve identification of at-risk individuals as well as delivery of personalized (precision) treatments.

4.  Digital Therapeutics Gain Headway

It's no surprise that the report indicates that digital therapeutics usage is expected to rise as an adjunct to treatment to enhance medication adherence, for example, and "as an alternative to traditional treatments, such as diabetes prevention programs and other models related to preventing or mitigating the impact of chronic conditions."

5.  Pain Treatment Goes Virtual

Virtual reality/augmented reality (VR/AR) will become more mainstream as a routine treatment for pain control after surgery and as an adjunct for chronic pain control.

6.  Hear This! Solutions for Provider Relief will Proliferate 

Innovative solutions to ease the burden on clinicians include broader use of voice recognition and intelligent assistants.

7.  Devices Employed to Manage Chronic Diseases

Chronic disease detection and management will benefit from wearables and implantable health devices that also will monitor the effectiveness of treatment.

8.  Blockchain Breaks Free

"Finally, after much speculation and hype, 2019 will be the year that blockchain’s potential as an interoperability aid comes into sharper focus," says the report. The authors predicts that distributed ledger technology (DLT) will be "leveraged as a part of the broader interoperability ‘toolbox’ to remove the redundancy and friction points that currently exist within the system (i.e. claims adjudication, benefit fulfillment, provider credentialing, etc.). DLT is not a ‘magic bullet;’ it’s essentially middleware that was designed to be extremely transparent, but will be utilized to start conversations and explore new business opportunities with stakeholders who have not been able to ‘talk’ to each other due to misaligned incentives and technological infrastructure."

The report also addresses how:

  • Consumer pressure will accelerate global reformation and value-based care
  • Financial and demographic challenges will inspire new methods of care delivery
  • Escalating data debates will drive policy changes

The complete report can be accessed here.

Mandy Roth is the innovations editor at HealthLeaders.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

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