Last week, Healthcare IT News editor Mike Miliard wrote a piece that might have escaped your attention. He offered up 18 health technologies poised for big growth based on data from HIMSS Analytics. While none of the technologies listed are quite as sexy as robotics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence, I'd say they are spot on with regard to the near term global opportunities that I see in the market.
A popular theme here on HealthBlog is the era of disillusionment that will soon be upon us when business and clinical leaders realize that the tens or hundreds of millions of dollars they've invested in electronic medical record solutions aren't doing all that much to transform the health industry or clinical practice. Don't get me wrong. Ditching paper records and digitizing health data had to be done. However, that alone doesn't really change the world of healthcare or healthcare delivery. EMR investments will only pay off when we start using powerful tools to analyze the massive amount of digital data we are now gathering to provide business and clinical insights that will transform the industry. Furthermore, if you look closely at the HIMSS Analytics chart of Technologies with Positive Growth Potential above, you will see some common themes arise. What are those themes?
If you are a business or clinical leader of a healthcare organization and your mission is to shift closer to the so-called "triple aim" of improving access to care, improving the quality of care, and lowering the cost of care; this is what you need to do. First, get on board with the cloud. Your core competency isn't IT. Your competency is patient care. Everything you do should be directed at that. So wherever possible, let go of information technology solutions you no longer need to manage on site. This includes e-mail, file, hosting, archiving, communications, identification, and a lot of other things that a company whose core competency is IT can mange better, at far less risk, and at much lower cost than your own IT department.
Next turn your attention to solutions that improve clinical workflow, communication and collaboration. This includes arming your clinicians with clinical grade, mobile devices that move around as they do. The days of making everyone gather around a fixed work station to get what they need done are over. Healthcare workers and the work flow of healthcare must be mobile.
Along with those clinical grade mobile devices, arm your work force with a contemporary unified communications and collaboration solution to provide the optimal balance of synchronous and asynchronous communication. I've always said if healthcare workers had tools to communicate and collaborate as those of us who work in tech and many other industries do every day, healthcare would be a far more productive and efficient industry. Healthcare is all about effective communications and care teams working together. How about leveraging your digital assets to improve the flow of information between the doctors, nurses, and other clinicians who need it by implementing a universal, unified communications solution.
Finally, back to the topic of analytics, start using the digital data you are gathering to improve business and clinical processes and outcomes. Whether that is for financial modeling, staff scheduling, resource planning, bed management, improved diagnostics, population health, predicting outcomes or reducing readmissions, very advanced solutions and tools are now available in versions for cloud as well as on-premises.
From the Microsoft health and healthcare industry graphic above I think you'll note that our capabilities here at Microsoft map quite well to what experts are suggesting will be the next big transformative opportunities in health IT. You can learn more by visiting www.microsoft.com/health.
Bill Crounse, MD Senior Director, Worldwide Health Microsoft