Healthcare Technology Featured Article

December 29, 2011

Top 10 Healthcare IT Trends: EHRs, ACOs, Pay-for-Performance Coming Soon to a Doctor Near You

The top 10 health IT predictions from Information Week cover everything from electronic health records (EHRs) to accountable care organizations (ACOs). But perhaps the most significant is just how much more healthcare will change in 2012, according to writer Brian Buntz.

Buntz noted in his story that the three most important trends by the end of 2012 will be: the majority of U.S. providers switching over to EHRs, successful ACOs becoming established and healthcare professionals being judged on outcomes before being paid.

“If those three predictions turn out to be accurate, they would represent a sea change for how healthcare is delivered in this country,” Buntz writes, adding that information technology is continually revamping every aspect of our lives and now it’s healthcare’s turn.

Amazingly, Buntz writes, “There are countless entrepreneurs, tech proponents, and people in high places in U.S. government that believe that health IT will completely transform healthcare—for the better.”

But not everything’s coming up roses.  People still have a number of concerns about the technology, whether it’s privacy or “simply the belief that health IT is over-hyped,” Buntz wries.

He adds that they may be on to something, adding that, though the trend towards them is very clear, it might be years “before electronic medical records (EMRs) begin living up to their potential to cut costs or improve care.” And in some particularly unfortunate cases, he writes, “EMRs may lead to unintended consequences.” Also, they’re now unpopular among many clinicians, and it may indeed take a while before everyone bites the bullet on, and sees the benefit of EMRs.

Buntz notes that information technology has already invaded most of our lives, from paying bills online to streaming films into our living rooms. But healthcare has been slow to get on board. Still, he writes, that may start to change as soon as consumer technology and healthcare technology converge—helping to bring cost-savings to medicine in the process.

Don Fluckinger at writes that “Meaningful Use Stage 2” is one of the top trends going forward and will play a big role in healthcare for years to come. In his story, he wonders how many questions will be raised  as “vendors tune up their software for ONC certification and customer EHR implementation.”

He also cites cloud computing as another trend, and ponders why it’s still having such a hard time being accepted in the healthcare field, though he sees it getting closer in 2012. 

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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