Last year, we shared our insights into the top 5 digital health trends that are helping shape the future of healthcare and we are happy to say we will continue to see these trends evolve well throughout 2018. This year we rang in the new year with our clients’ and their innovative projects that just so happen to fall into each of the following 7 categories.
Without a doubt, this will be an exciting year as we are at the forefront of the latest technologies with endless possibilities for the improvement of healthcare. More than ever before, we are ecstatic about bringing our clients’ visions to realization and are looking forward to seeing more trends emerge as the year progresses.
1. Microservices (in Healthcare)
Microservices are used to develop applications by building all the pieces simultaneously and by different teams. It is a special implementation approach for service-oriented architectures used to build flexible, independently deployable software systems. This type of architecture not only shortens the time to market, but also allows for the system to be constantly improved and in the long run, much more scalable.
Now how does all this talk of microservices relate to the field of healthcare? Along with the previously mentioned benefits, the most evident correlation would be the acceleration of the modernization of healthcare. But the list goes on to include the manageability of applications, shortening of the runtime, enablement of better movement between infrastructures and enrichment of data analysis. Let’s take, for example, a patient portal. Using the microservices architecture, the portal can be managed with multiple services and then scaled independently across different instances, while all sharing one central database. This would drastically cut the cost of building a portal, maintenance fees, as well as enable further scalability.
If you are considering implementing the microservices architecture, then we invite you to read our latest white paper that highlights the top 7 benefits that will make your decision a no-brainer.
2. Private cloud
IBM’s Cloud Private is an innovative services platform that provides a secure and flexible solution. It leverages open source technologies with integrated operational management and DevOps capabilities. The following are just a few of the many benefits:
● It can protect any sensitive workloads
● Ability to move legacy systems to microservices
● Total control over development and production environments
● Develop and run workloads you don’t want to put in the cloud
● Maintain complete control over your workload – all behind your own firewall
Providers, of course, see a special benefit in implementing private cloud – and there is a special role of cloud implementation in disaster recovery.
If you see the advantages of switching to a private cloud, as one of IBM’s premier partners, we’d be happy to connect you with our IBM cognitive cloud services contact, or do a whiteboard solutioning session with you. We also welcome you to email us at email@example.com if you’d like us to add you to the guest list for our next healthcare in the cloud event, which will be co-hosted with IBM in San Francisco.
Wearables are enhancing the quality of life and will continue to shape the way that people manage their health on a daily basis. Today’s technology is enabling people to improve their lifestyle habits and better their overall health through the use of wearable devices such as activity trackers and smartwatches (Fitbit, Samsung Gear, etc.). These devices can monitor vital signs and are helping people set goals, track them and most importantly accomplish them! Seamless integration of the digital and physical is allowing today’s consumer to take their health into their own hands, much beyond the clinical requirements.
Did all this talk of tracking personal fitness goals for the improvement of your health and well-being spark your interest? If so, then we recommend you read our case study which details our experience developing software for an integrated Fitness Data Tracking App for 14 different activity tracking APIs (wearables) with a gamified incentive system.
Timely access to healthcare has always been one of the crucial factors in improving the clinical results. For years now telehealth has been associated with offering timely care to rural areas, preventive medicine and access to physicians. Recently we have helped a client develop a solution that would improve the patient registration/onboarding process. What made the solution trickier is that it was focused on seniors and Medicare/Medicaid patients that lived in rural areas (access the case study here: Remote patient care Patient Registration App w/ EHR Integration ).
Aside from patients benefiting from the improvements in telehealth physicians are also a constant inspiration for the rising startup solutions and even big players entering the game. Better clinical outcomes and care management are in direct correlation with better management of physicians time. We see a lot of improvements in radiology, dermatology but also communication. Secure messaging is still one of the pain points on the provider side. There have been some amazing studies recently published in Telemedicine and e-Health: “60 percent of physicians sent work-related messages while at work, more than half texted about work-related matters while off duty and nearly one-third have received protected health information in a text.” Imprivata also argued that by increasing the use of texting at hospitals there could be significant savings of up to a $1mil per year if used for support of patient admissions, emergency response team coordination, and patient transfers.
5. Blockchain – From theory to practical use. Operations management and patient identity.
Blockchain’s future in healthcare is not only connected to cryptocurrencies (or hospitals paying ransomware through bitcoins 😉 ) although there are some really interesting ICOs forming such as https://medicalchain.com/en/.
If we were to brush up on some blockchain theory we would say that blockchain represents a highly secure network with a distributed database (so-called distributed ledger). The ledger is used to keep track of all transactions happening on the network, mark them with times stamps, enforce standardized rules for all participants on the network so that it could verify and access the information. Now in practice, or to be more precise in healthcare practice it will bring interoperability that is ultimately secure and automation that will revolutionize the business of healthcare. We are especially enthusiastic about having live healthcare applications running non-stop.
Until now a lot of the global companies have established dedicated units to the development of blockchain products, such as IBM, Intel, Google, Microsoft and others, and we believe this trend will grow rapidly especially knowing that the Federal government has supported this effort.
6. AI (Artificial Intelligence) & Cognitive
AI technologies in healthcare – mainstream adoption may be a bit further along but the efforts are really amazing and are paving the road light speed fast.
It was just two years ago that chatbots seemed like future, while today they are becoming a commodity. Shortening the process, making it more personalized and humane (pun intended) the future of AI in Healthcare is vast. AI bots could act as intermediaries between patients and doctors, as well as medical assistants helping out with scheduling appointments, self-medication management etc. No wonder Google, Amazon, and other giants are entering this space.
However, not only will Providers and Patients benefit from the use of AI in healthcare. Payers could benefit substantially in cutting costs by empowering AI in claims processing and management.
7. EHR Integration & Analytics
Last but not the least. And if you are wondering why did we not put precision medicine on the list with CRISPR, or virtual reality etc we have to say that we were saving the last place for something that we all are actively working on for the past couple of years but hopefully this will be a breakthrough year for all of us. EHRs have become operating systems of healthcare and it is prime time for this OS to get an upgrade. The openness of the system has already attracted a lot of old and new players to the game – and significant disruptions and improvement have already happened. However, this needs to speed up and now more than ever interoperability has to once again be in the spotlight.
Additionally, there is a special ask from the EHR vendors working more on analyzing the data they have to enhance population health. We believe EHR analytics will have a special focus in 2018.