Healthcare Technology Predictions for the Future

Prognostication can be a sucker’s game, but when it comes to identifying the future of healthcare technology there are a few safe bets based on ongoing trends. With an overall tide turning toward healthcare consumerism, the following trends are likely to stay for a while.

Increased Patient Engagement

The boundaries surrounding a distinct patient encounter will continue to blur as patients take a more active role in their care and use technology that facilitates increased access to information from healthcare providers. Patient portals will see increased traffic as improvements make them more user-friendly with quality content synched from electronic health records.

Recent studies have shown a promising path forward for telemedicine, with most telemedicine patients reporting a favorable experience. Patients cite numerous benefits associated with these virtual appointments, including reduced barriers to healthcare with regard to transportation, childcare arrangements, and time away from work. As these telemedicine encounters become more mainstream, the models of when, where, and how healthcare is delivered will continue to evolve.

Increased Consumerism

The quality of the patient experience will continue to increase in importance. The profile of the average consumer, whether in healthcare or other business sectors, evolves rapidly as technology raises consumer expectations of what is possible. Consumers will be expecting more transparency from their healthcare encounters and fewer inefficiencies and red tape.

The healthcare world will continue to compete with outside consumer products that push the boundaries of the regulating bodies—and challenge the turf of traditional healthcare providers. Direct-to-consumer genetic testing products are a good example of disruptive technology that benefits a certain adventurous consumer. Just as healthcare providers now have to know how to handle discussions with patients who have sought out this type of service on their own, they will likely continue to lose some control over where patients get their information and make their healthcare decisions as additional boundary-pushing health products enter the broader consumer market.

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Consumer Devices

People love their devices. The health wearables market is booming with an annual expansion rate of 25 percent, with both physicians and patients documenting satisfaction with wearables. As new devices come online, healthcare organizations should look for opportunities to incorporate the data from these devices into the medical record.

Continued Innovation in Security Threats

According to the Accenture/Ponemon Institute’s 2017 Cost of Cyber Crime Study, the average number of security breaches increased by 27 percent last year. The big cyberattack villain of recent years has been ransomware, but there has already been an overall precipitous drop in ransomware cases as would-be victims have become wise to the threat and cryptocurrency mining has increased. Good news, right? Well, it is premature to celebrate in the healthcare sector. Healthcare data continues to be a prime target for ransomware attacks. It is therefore necessary to continue to battle the ransomware threat while anticipating the new tools criminals will develop as ransomware subsides in other sectors, which will pose a new threat to healthcare data.