Consumer Demand Will Drive Real Health-Tech Change in 2019, HIMSS Report Finds

The trends reflect healthcare's evolution toward a more value-based care model with more digital health innovations.

telehealth, digital health, HIMSS

While digital health tools have provided a lot of hype over the last few years, a new report from Healthcare Information and Management Society Systems (HIMSS) finds that developers will be accountable for delivering tangible results due to consumer demand and policy pressure in 2019.

HIMSS released the new annual report yesterday, gauging leaders who have a bird's eye view of healthcare industry trends and changes. The doument, 2019 Healthcare Trends Forecast: The Beginning of a Consumer-Driven Reformation, aims to give clinicians, providers, payers, academics and policymakers insight and perspectives to make better clinical and financial outcomes.

The report focuses on four trends: digital health implications and applications, consumer impact, financial and demographic challenges and issues of data governance and policy. Its findings centered on everything from government-driven innovation and big tech's entrance into heathcare to blockchain and interoperability.

>> READ: Aetna's Apple Watch App Aims to Personalize & Incentivize Digital Health

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration Precertification Pilot Program and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Innovation Center will allow for increased innovation. And policymakers will be more aggressive about policy changes that speed up the time to market tools that increase patient access, improve efficiencies, decrease burden and create new pathways for care delivery.

Policymakers will also need to focus on privacy and security in 2019 to protect information sharing.

The authors of the report believe that we will see more specific real-world applications of digital health technology, such as broader adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning in population health, virtual reality and augmented reality as a routine treatment for pain control after surgery and wearables and implantable devices to allow more routine detection of chronic conditions. We may also see an increased use and benefit from digital therapeutics as an adjunct or alternative to traditional treatments and a broader use of voice recognition and intelligent assistants to improve workflow and reduce clinician burnout.

And consumer pressure will also accelerate global reformation and value-based care.

Like last year, retail giants like Amazon, Google and Walmart will continue to use their expertise of consumer expectations and machine learning tools to improve customer demands in ways traditional healthcare markets struggle with. Consumers will demand even more access to personalized and patient-centric care and will look to healthcare options that are convenient and cost transparent.

This will cause healthcare to shift toward a value-based model.

With consumers looking for cost-efficient options for their healthcare, care providers will continue to have financial pressures with fewer resources and reduced costs while providing higher quality and safer care.

As part of the evolution of care delivery, we may see new digital health tools and technology that can be used by patients 24/7 to access care from any location, population and public health analytics used to identify vulnerable demographics and find solutions and more virtual care, telehealth and smart technology supported by AI used.

And of course, the authors did not forget to mention blockchain.

This year, the potential of blockchain technology as an interoperability aid might become clearer.

“(Blockchain) is going to be leveraged as a part of the broader interoperability ‘toolbox’ to remove the redundancy and friction points that currently exist within the system,” the authors wrote.

While these are just projections for what healthcare might look like this year, one thing is clear: care needs to be focused on the patient.

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