Strategic goals among leaders in the healthcare industry are more ambitious than ever for 2019. According to HealthcareITNews, the top three priorities reported by CEOs are:
- Reduce overall cost of operations
- Transform the delivery model
- Rebuild the health system
While the strategic approaches to these priorities are likely to vary between organizations, all solutions directly involve the use of technology for quality management. As organizations grapple with cost, transformation, and rebuilding, technology can be key to successful adaptation and growth.
As a result, healthcare leaders are facing more change than ever before, including rapid regulatory updates and innovation in medical devices. While predicting the future is challenging, technology trends such as the internet of things (IoT) and analytics are already having a significant impact on healthcare quality.
What's on the Horizon for Quality Management in Healthcare in 2019?
Many trends on the horizon for quality management aren’t necessarily new, but now they’re playing a new role. Quality management technology as a whole is beginning to fit more use cases and drive improved outcomes in unprecedented ways. In the year to come, quality management technology will allow healthcare organizations to strengthen the patient focus and create new operational efficiency.
Here are the top trends for quality management in healthcare and why they're so important.
1. Integrated Healthcare Information Systems
In the past, healthcare information systems (HIS) were a series of standalone systems which served a function in the organization. The care organization typically had one or more separate systems for finances, insurance, electronic health records (EHR), and organizational management. Today, healthcare organizations are consolidating systems to drive operational efficiency and total quality management across the patient experience.
The shift towards consolidated healthcare technology isn’t a new trend, nor is it a surprising direction for industry insiders. A key driver is the need to decrease patient care costs and improve quality through visibility.
“We’re seeing a more organized way to deliver care and greater coordination among participants in what were once distinct verticals to provide that care.” - Anu Singh in HFMA.
The consolidation of systems for clinicians, providers, and payers doubled over one recent five-year study period to help better manage patient healthcare.
The latest generation of smart, integrated systems provides contextually rich experiences for users which comply with evolving regulatory requirements. Consolidated data from across the patient experience can allow leadership, healthcare providers, and other stakeholders to make more informed decisions. It will also enable operational efficiency through greater than ever automation. International Data Corporation (IDC) experts predict that by 2021, up to 20% of commercial back-office payer operations will be fully automated.
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2. Deeper Data Adoption
Effective healthcare has always been informed by both patient-reported data and data gathered by clinicians. In recent years, the role of data in healthcare has expanded to include big data insights from EHR, medical devices, insurance claims, research, and other sources. As healthcare organizations have worked to integrate new sources of data, they've faced challenges of accessibility, security, and translation.
Smarter, more automated systems are improving how healthcare organizations can collect, analyze, and integrate data sources in real-time to improve the quality of the patient experience. Organizations are increasingly relying on more data sources to inform preventative and personalized care, staff clinics and hospitals, and disease responses.
The most innovative organizations are using more data sources than ever for total quality management. Several use cases which IDC predicts will play an expanding role in 2019 include:
- Digital mobile engagement
- Patient-reported data
- Shared evidence between healthcare organizations
3. Big Data Analytics for Improved Outcomes
The vision for big data in healthcare has been to improve patient outcomes, and consistently deliver quality care at an affordable price. When big data assets are mobilized, the result is a "learning health system." Jessica Kent of Health IT Analytics defines learning systems as a quality system where clinicians, leaders, and patients work together to “identify actionable insights and communicate data to patients in ways that support shared decision-making.”
Healthcare organizations have historically faced several challenges translating big data into insight, including the need for immense computer processing power, a requirement for population and patient data, and AI algorithms which can produce quality insights in real-time. As AI and cognitive intelligence have matured, healthcare organizations are increasingly able to augment clinical decision-making with big data-driven recommendations.
The convergence of big data and improved analytical capacity is improving patient quality with accurate predictions for patient complications, readmissions, and outcomes based on personalized care plans. In the months to come, big data analytics is also likely to improve the quality of health organization regulatory risk management and operations.
Learn about the Clinical Data Summary Pilot Program: FDA Rolls Out New Drug Research and Development Pilot Program.
4. Smart, Connected MedTech
Internet of Things (IoT) adoption in the healthcare industry has grown steadily. By next year, 87% of healthcare organizations will be using smart connected devices. According to Healthtech magazine, up to 64% of healthcare delivery organizations have already adopted the most common IoT devices: patient monitors, energy meters, and x-ray/imaging devices.
Smart medical devices can offer a variety of benefits, from increased automation and innovation to more personalized care at a lower cost. Hospitals are beginning to adopt more sophisticated devices, such as robots which can provide continuous care in the absence of human care providers.
Wearable devices received an enormous amount of hype several years ago. While consumer wearables such as Google Glass may not have replaced smartphones, wearables in the health industry have remarkable potential and proven results for improving care quality. In the months to come, the use of wearables for patient monitoring is a trend to watch closely.
87% of patients have already adopted at least one digital health tool, according to Healthcare Informatics, including a 24% adoption rate of wearable devices. Medical wearables can simplify many of the challenges associated with remote patient monitoring by automating data collection. The use of wearables for remote patient care could significantly lower costs and improve outcomes for some of the most vulnerable patient populations.
Wearable deployments have not yet reached maturity, and there are barriers to widespread adoption. HIT Consultant emphasizes that ensuring data quality and billing challenges are two barriers organizations face in effectively deploying wearables. However, the potential of this trend for quality improvements is too great to ignore.
Will Your Organization Be Quality-Driven in 2019?
The most significant healthcare technology trends to watch for in the months to come aren't necessarily disruptive new applications or devices. Instead, they're smart applications of existing technologies which have a measurable impact on quality management.
Consolidated systems, analytics, wearables, and other technologies are helping organizations take greater control over the quality of patient care, cost, and efficiency. As you consider your strategy for 2019, will your organization be quality-driven?
A great way to take your organization's quality vital signs is by obtaining your quality score with our innovative, interactive questionnaire. The short, insightful form will cover your readiness to scale quality, risk of adverse findings, and quality best practice.