Healthcare & Life Sciences

Top 3 technology trends for Healthcare in 2021

Digital transformation, patient engagement, and security are top priorities in the year ahead

2020 was the most difficult year in recent history for Healthcare providers. As the different COVID-19 vaccines make their way into the market, we can only hope that we will return to some degree of normalcy by this summer. 2021 will be dominated by several major themes including the increase in remote health, improved personalization and patient engagement, and a significant focus on improved cyber security.  

Digital transformation in healthcare is accelerating 

Healthcare is shifting to a digital-first business model for most patient and clinical interactions. For example, the explosion of telemedicine has created a ‘digital front door’ that could change the game in terms of patient engagement. As a result, most healthcare organizations are focusing on new capabilities to aggregate data and use Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to improve process automation and decision-making. 

AI is fueling the ability to create more precise predictions about patient care and outcomes. The increased demand for remote medical care for routine checkups and non-pandemic care will drive increased investment in digital visits and remote care delivery. Many health organizations will focus on cloud, SaaS, and AI and analytics investments, as well as application modernization as priorities as they accelerate the move towards digital transformation.  

Healthcare organizations, including health providers, payers, care organizations and public health agencies, are also embracing agile and low code development tools and methodologies as they prepare for the future. The use of cloud applications is increasing dramatically as mobile applications take the lead in improving the patient experience and increasing operation efficiencies.  

In 2021, the question is not whether but how we add AI to the mix. There is significant work to be done in engaging clinicians in the use of AI to improve patient outcomes. Healthcare professionals need to understand that AI and analytics processes and improvements are needed to make AI transparent and explainable to both clinicians and patients. 

Changing platform requirements places focus on security and threat management 

A recent MIT Review study of Healthcare showed that 52% of healthcare leaders indicate they are allocating a “significant” share (more than 25%) of their IT budgets to security and threat management. And 58% of Healthcare respondents indicate they will put more emphasis on defending against cyberattacks over the next 12 to 18 months. With more patient and clinician interactions happening on mobile devices, and significantly more patient data in the cloud, health CIOs are rightly worried about security and compliance.  

Recent security issues, including ransomware attacks and HIPAA breach enforcement penalties, have generated an increased focus on security and threat management in most Healthcare organizations. We have witnessed a surge in cyber attacks – especially ransomware – focused on the Healthcare sector during the pandemic. 

2021 brings a set of significant challenges to an already difficult situation. Managing another COVID-19 surge, the massive complexities of vaccine delivery, changes in care delivery, and new compliance and security requirements mean that health organizations are facing another daunting year. The continuous improvements that are happening in software, platforms and applications will help improve this difficult situation.  

However, these security issues become even more important as we add new data requirements from developments such as remote health delivery and the 21st Century Cures Act. 

The 21st Century Cures Act heralds a new dawn for patient engagement 

We are only a few short months from the April started date of the ONC’s 21Century Cures Act in the U.S. The federal rule requires that a wealth of data, including most clinical notes and electronic health information must be shared with patients on demand for free. It will drive a new generation of patient engagement through digital interaction and information sharing. While the US Department of Health and Human Services has offered some extension for compliance, there is still a great deal of work for Healthcare providers to do. 

As the rules around information blocking finally comes into force, information integration, automation and digitization is critical for providers to ensure compliance without impacting daily operations or straining already limited budgets. Yet often the breadth of information required is still held in soiled systems throughout the organization. This does not give a huge amount of time if Healthcare providers are to hit the October 2022 deadline to make all information available to patients via their chose smartphone app. 

There is no doubt that this act is fueling a renewed focus on digital engagement with patients and the rapid adoption of the HL7 FHIR (Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources) standard. These capabilities are quickly becoming table stakes in highly competitive Healthcare markets.  

OpenText™ has a range of solutions designed to accelerate digital transformation, enhance mobile patient engagement, and deliver highly secure content management. Please visit our website to learn more. 

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Scott Lundstrom

Scott is a long time industry analyst, CIO, and software developer supporting complex regulated businesses in healthcare, life sciences, and aerospace. Scott founded the health industry practice at IDC Research and lead this group for 13 years. Scott also held leadership roles in research focused on AI, Cloud, SaaS, enterprise applications and analytics.

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