Healthcare Industry Trends 2022

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By Peyman Zand | Jan 7, 2022

4 minute read EHR/EMR| Blog| IT Advisory

2020 and 2021 events pushed the healthcare industry into uncharted territories of digital transformation at an unexpected and often uncomfortably rapid pace for many providers. And this was the silver lining for many CIOs who really wanted to make the shift earlier but lacked the impetus or buy-in for sweeping changes. How are these events shaping the future of healthcare and specifically what does 2022 look like? In this brief we are going to concentrate on trends in three primary categories and how they will drive the investment decisions for the CIO: 

  1. Patient experience. Continue building on the transformation activities around patient experience, which includes items such as integrated portal and improving patient payment processes and payer interaction experience, remote patient monitoring systems, integrated care delivery via telehealth while meeting privacy needs of patients.   
  2. Distributed computing. Distributed computing will allow organizations to support access by anyone, at any time, through any mechanism to the data and services they need. Easier access offers multiple benefits to those involved in healthcare organizations from clinicians and physicians to patients and employees. An integral part of distributed computing entails completing the migration of the majority of systems to the cloud while developing a robust security environment to combat the ever-increasing threat of cybersecurity attacks.   
  3. Advanced data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI). Enhanced use of technology in meeting the demand in advanced care delivery solutions and options will propel organizations in adopting advanced analytics, AI and other innovations that will improve patient care and the quality of care.   

Integration and relationships are foundational to digital transformation 

Integral to these trends and the future of healthcare transformation is integration. Integration can no longer be a separate effort but is a key driver to every area of operations under the purview of the CIO.  As progress continues in the areas of population health, value-based care, and regulatory compliance, clinical and healthcare operations leaders are driving these programs, and CIOs must continue to foster strong partnerships and lead the way to implement technologies that will result in success for these programs.   

Deeper dive: 2022 digital transformation building blocks 

  1. Patient Experience. Organizations will use a variety of technologies to improve patient experience, and these technologies will allow care teams to monitor the patient remotely and proactively detect changes to vital signs and other indicators that could require intervention. To continue improving the patient experience, organizations will need to have a seamless environment that guides the patient through scheduling appointments, getting their lab or other services scheduled and completed. Patients are wanting to understand their financial obligation for every procedure as well as access a payment or reimbursement interface. Plus, they are expecting updates and messages about procedure and appointment dates, virtual care through telemedicine, and other conveniences that patients have come to expect from consumer-focused industries such as retail and travel. Post-discharge, patients want to use mobile devices to communicate with care team members about recovery and schedule follow-up appointments like physical therapy. Communication with care team members throughout their journey is a priority for patients.  Of course, all of these new services will need to be secure.  Frameworks must be in place to protect information and guard health systems against cyberattacks and other malicious activities that could compromise patient data and erode patient trust.  
  2. Distributed Computing. Since the pandemic, organizations have accelerated the pace for distributed computing — starting with cloud migration. It has become obvious that services available on the cloud offer easier access, higher reliability and availability compared to services offered through aging and closed network data centers. Cloud-hosted services will allow patients to access their information with more ease and flexibility, and physicians will have access to a broader set of services than with closed network environments. Interactions between clinical team members, other facilities, and even AI-driven systems are facilitated by the use of cloud-based environments. Deploying distributed computing environments will allow employees, physicians, and patients to access information and collaborate in real time. Such collaboration extends beyond the walls of the acute care facility to lab and radiology providers so patient care decisions can be made based on real-time patient information through remote patient monitoring, historical health records, labs, radiology and other sources. Again, these advancements require enhanced security protocols such as Cybersecurity Mesh Architecture. According to the Top Strategic Technology Trends for 2022: Cybersecurity Mesh report published in October from Gartner Research Group, “Cybersecurity mesh architecture is a composable and scalable approach to extend security controls to distributed assets by decoupling policy enforcement from the assets being protected.” CIOs and CISOs should consider strategies for cybersecurity mesh and other security protocols in order to better protect digital access.  
  3. Advanced Technologies. You could say that advanced analytics and AI have been healthcare trends for quite a while. However, the value of these systems has become even more evident during and after the pandemic. The ability to predict waves of patients that may create surges in our emergency rooms and to forecast the number of ventilators or additional PPE supplies to order through intelligent supply chain models are tangible ways these advanced technologies have helped sustain hospital operations. Many services can take advantage of robotic process automation (RPA) and are often better managed by RPA than human interaction, because you remove the risk of human error with repetitive tasks. Natural Language Processing (NLP) will reduce the burden on nurses, clinicians, and other staff members, while giving patients instant access to the information they seek.  For example, some hospitals have implemented Amazon Alexa devices at the bedside to allow patients to obtain and select their food menu, ask for help and change TV channels.  For providers, NLP allows them to record findings quickly in EHR systems, search lab or radiology services, and leave notes for other care team members, which ultimately gives them more time with patients.  Also, Microservice Architecture will allow hospitals to integrate services with a variety of external partners for improved care delivery while maintaining user experience through the consistency of patient portals.  For years, Amazon has used Microservice Architecture to seamlessly connect to other suppliers and systems while maintaining a consistent and user-friendly interface for users.  In the same way that consumers don’t see the number of integrated services behind Amazon’s interface, hospitals need to achieve the same seamless experience with patients.  

In summary: Digital transformation in the healthcare industry has been pushed forward as a result of the pandemic. Healthcare CIOs will be driven in 2022 by the need to mature their IT operations and workstreams to focus on integration, automation, and security across their technology ecosystem. Patients and quality care are always center stage in these technology decisions. That’s why patient experience, distributed computing, and advanced technologies must lead the way as building blocks for lasting digital healthcare transformation. 

About the Author:
Peyman Zand

CSO, CereCore

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