- The Center for Connected Medicine has released its Top of Mind 2018 survey of technologies to watch in the coming year.
- Heading the list is cybersecurity, with nine in 10 respondents saying they plan to spend more in 2018 to prevent data breaches and cyberattacks. Two-thirds reported increases in non-C suite cybersecurity staff.
- The annual survey offers a glimpse into how healthcare leaders plan to prioritize and invest in health IT trends in the year ahead.
IT investment is growing as health systems look to ramp up and improve their telehealth services, which can sometimes save money in the long term. Also, a few high profile cyberattacks this year have led executives to see a greater need for securing their computer systems and devices.
According to the survey, health systems are likely to invest time and money in proven solutions that can have near-term impact, such as strengthening cybersecurity systems. Less-proven technologies like artificial intelligence and wearables can expect to see more cautious uptake.
In terms of cybersecurity spending, roughly half of respondents plan to invest in ways to better identify (54%), detect (50%) and protect against (50%) cyber threats. Less than 20% are focused on recover and respond technologies.
Asked whether they would pay cybercriminals to recover encrypted files, 17% said yes, 17% were undecided, 22% didn't know and 44% said no.
Other digital health priorities for 2018 include:
Consumer-facing technology. While fewer than 25% of executives think wearables and mobile health apps will generate valuable patient data in 2018, such technologies will provide more information from patient health records in the future, according to the survey. In fact, more than half of executives reported integrating patient-generated data into EHRs and one-third said they will begin doing so next year.
Sources of patient-generated data expected to be of most value in 2018 include patient portals (88%), home monitoring equipment (46%), mobile health apps (21%) and wearables (17%).
In an indication of the potential impact of patient-generated data on health outcomes, all of the respondents said they will promote health and wellness apps to patients in 2018 — either via prescriptions, patient portals or social media.
Virtual care. Despite lagging reimbursement for virtual care (39%) and remote monitoring (45%), respondents are optimistic. Of those not being reimbursed for virtual care, 71% expect to be paid in 2018.
“If we got reimbursed it would encourage greater investment [in telehealth] — absolutely it would count. We continue to move in this space regardless, but might not go as wide or as deep,” one CEO commented in the survey.
Roughly 7 in 10 said their health systems were supportive of telehealth, with 21% being very supportive and half being somewhat so. The areas where telehealth is currently seeing most use are stroke (79%), psychology/mental health (58%), primary care (50%), emergency medicine (38%), urgent care (33%) and dermatology (21%). Of those, mental health is expected to see the most growth next year (33%).
When it comes to implementing remote patient monitoring programs, improving quality/safety (75%), reducing costs (46%) and patient demand (42%) were key factors.
Artificial intelligence. Executives expect AI to have a big impact in healthcare down the road, but proving its worth right now can be difficult, they survey notes. While more than half of health systems are using AI now, about two-thirds consider it a low or very low priority for next year.
AI is seeing the greatest use in clinical decision support (46%), population health (33%), readmissions (33%), disease management (29%) and patient safety and quality (25%). However, it’s also being applied in medical costs and health plans, supply chain management and cancer care. Cost was cited as a reason for low use of AI in cancer care — just 12%.
Predictive analytics. More than half of leaders either use or are planning to use genomic testing to enhance personalized approaches to treating patients, with a key focus on oncology, anesthesia and pharmacogenetics, according to the survey.
However, there are challenges to implementing the technology. More than two-thirds of leaders said resource allocation was a potential barrier, while 54% cited standardizing the clinical practice and 38% cited organization culture.
The top four uses for predictive analytics in 2018 will be patient safety/quality, readmissions, clinical decision support (71% each) and population health (67%), according to the survey.