Healthcare Technology Featured Article

December 14, 2011

What's ahead in Healthcare for 2012? Practice Fusion Predicts

Want to know what’s ahead for healthcare next year? From electronic health records (EHRs) to meaningful use to mobile health, it’s all here.   Listen to what some of the experts have to say, as posted in a press release at by Practice Fusion.

First, our kids are going to get into health technology in a big way. Maybe not electronic health records (EHRs) at first, says Regina Holliday, patient rights arts advocate, but definitely how patients interact with doctors through technology now. Where in the past, children might have played with doctor-patient toy sets, now, she predicts, “More apps will be designed in the world of mobile health that cater to the needs of children. In brick and mortar stores, we will see doctor play-sets combine the classic treatment tools with the tools of technology."

A medical student and Office Manager at Moataz K. Giurgius MD, Inc., Adult & Geriatric Psychiatry Corporation, says the trend toward EHRs will provide faster and better medical care for patients. Shadee Giurgius says that the switch from paper to digital records at the practice he manages has allowed “our 3,120 patients (to) enjoy our new efficiencies and less-prone-to-error workflow.”

A writer and San Francisco editor at Xconomy, Wade Roush sees three tipping points in 2012. He lists them: “In the spread of EMRs to physician practices as doctors realize the clock is running out on Meaningful Use payments, in employer-provided wellness programs for employees, and in the amount of data flowing into cloud-based services from personal health monitoring devices.”  He says we won’t be able to solve any of the “massive structural problems in healthcare -- it's an election year, after all -- but we'll all get savvier about the potential solutions."

John Lynn, a blogger at Health IT Blog Network, gets straight to the point. He believes 2012 will be “all about Meaningful Use: Meaningful Use, ACOs, Meaningful Use, ICD-10, Meaningful Use, Meaningful Use, 5010, and a little more Meaningful Use covered in Meaningful Use,” as he’s quoted in the press release.

Others, however, would beg to differ. Brian Klepper, Ph.D. and David C. Kibbe, MD, MBA, predict “that few doctors and hospitals will meet the objectives set for the “meaningful use” of certified EHR technology” at MedPage Today’s KevinMD blog. But they add it may not be a bad thing, as it may give healthcare providers a chance to “clean house” and move to more “agile” software for record-keeping for 2012.

"All signs point to 2012 as the year healthcare and mobile truly converge,” says Matthew Douglass, vice president of engineering at Practice Fusion, which sponsored the survey, in the press release. “The creation of physician tools to manage their patient populations, apps for healthcare consumers to access their health history on-the-go, and thousands of apps in the Quantified Self space will allow patients to have access to more and more of their daily data than ever before. Along with this growth in the mobile healthcare market could be additional compliance requirements put in place by the FDA and other regulatory bodies with an eye toward protecting patients."

PWC’s Touchstone Survey sees other trends emerging. Its survey uncovered an increase in provider consolidation and cost-shifting in Medicare and Medicaid, and post-recession stress building up on the workforce. 

For Michael Lake, Healthcare Technology Strategies, and president of Circle Square Inc., “big data,” along with clinical analytics and personalized health “will be huge in 2012. As more clinical data come online from maturing EMR databases, clinical claims repositories and potentially genomics, the need for analysis is now upon us. We need to use historical and current data to predict clinical and financial risk and find best treatment options,” he says in the press release.

He feels that important innovations to watch in 2012 include “clinical language understanding (Nuance), probabilistic decision-support (IBM Watson), and new approaches to clinical trials that use smaller populations that may directly benefit (translational medicine).”

Robert Rowley, MD, medical director at Practice Fusion says in the press release that interoperability will be key. "In health IT, interoperability (having different practice locations be able to share data back and forth) will be the center of attention. Traditional health information exchanges will struggle, both technologically and from lack of small practice subscribers. Sharing the platform directly will outstrip other methods as a quick and effective way of sharing information between different locations of care."

Practice Fusion provides a free, web-based EHR system to physicians.

Deborah DiSesa Hirsch is an award-winning health and technology writer who has worked for newspapers, magazines and IBM in her 20-year career. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Rich Steeves

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