What Does 2018 Hold for Healthcare Technology?

Experts and insiders sound off on the projects, people, and patterns poised to pop off in 2018.

Who will make huge strides toward interoperability in 2018? Perhaps hackers will craft new weapons, forcing cybersecurity squads to rethink their safeguards. And better, more accessible data might lead to greater advances in precision medicine.

The Year of Man—Machine Collaboration

Machine learning will make screening exams cheaper and more readily available. The algorithms will act as force multipliers for radiologists for procedures like CT lung screening.

“2018 will be the year of man-machine collaboration. This is truly a brave new world that will benefit all of us.”

— Morris Panner, JD, CEO of Ambra Health

Electronic Medical Records Vendors Will Step to the Population Health Plate

Healthcare providers continue to demand more complete, singular solutions for population health management, and experts think that electronic medical record (EMR) providers will rise to the challenge.

“2018 will see EMR companies perfecting and expanding upon these offerings. There may still be a gap in terms of the polish and functionality of the software, but the value of being a one-stop shop will trump the diminishing gap between functionalities offered.”

— Amit Phull, MD, medical director of Doximity

The Rise of the Digital Pill

In 2017, the FDA approved the first digital pill: a sensor- enabled version of the antipsychotic Abilify designed to monitor adherence. As the technology improves, experts expect digital drugs to get more widespread. Peter R. Chai of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, studied the issue and foresees even smaller tech in the future.

“In the year since our study, we went from this big clunky device to a reader the size of an ID badge that sits on a lanyard.”

— Peter R. Chai, MD, Brigham and Women’s Hospital

Data Become More Powerful Against the Opioid Crisis

Health information exchanges are set to strengthen. The Strategic Health Information Exchange Collaborative, a national consortium of such groups, is working to advance their work. In Nebraska, for example, it is helping to expand a prescription drug monitoring program, across borders and apart from certain EMR vendors.

“It’s really going to be a platform for these health information exchanges to evolve the innovative work they’re doing.”

—Joyce Sensmeier, MS, RN-BC, vice president of informatics at the Healthcare Informatics and Management Systems Society

Defining Value in the Final Days

Roughly 80% of healthcare dollars are spent in the last 6 months of life. Kathryn B. Kirkland, MD, the head of palliative medicine at Dartmouth College, in Hanover, New Hampshire, is examining how humanities studies play into end-of-life considerations. Her work could help patients, families, and care teams come to a consensus on what value is during those difficult times.

“If it is imminent, how would you like to go, and what does dying with dignity mean to you?”

— Manish Mishra, MD, MPH, director of professional education and outreach at Dartmouth College

Cybercrime and Cybersecurity Services

The arms race surrounding healthcare cybersecurity will further escalate, with both white hats and black hats sharpening their teeth.

“Cybercriminals will become more organized and act ‘as a service.’ Companies will also demand more security products ‘as a service’ to keep up, plus maintain lower costs and increase efficiency.”

— Fatih Orhan, PhD, VP of Threat Labs at Comodo

AI and Cybersecurity Will Intertwine

As security applications get bigger and more complex, companies will need to take a hard look at how to fully integrate them.

“With [security information and event management] platforms evolving to encompass machine learning concepts and orchestration capabilities, plus spreading to the furthest ends of the digital enterprise, we must also look at the most appropriate delivery model.”

— A.N. Ananth, MSEE, CEO of EventTracker

Hackers Will Take Cue From WannaCry, NotPetya

The impressive, widespread NotPetya and WannaCry attacks of 2017 will set the precedent for future cyber assaults, according to experts. Instead of plying for diminishing returns, uncontrollable parasites will become more attractive, and lucrative, for bad actors.

“Hackers are getting sick of the months it takes to profit from [point-of-service] malware breaches and exfiltrating card data. US-based credit card data is barely worth $5 to $30 on the dark web now.”

— Kevin Watson, CEO of Netsurion