We are in an era that many would call the post-pandemic, aka “new norm.” Now is the time to prepare for the 2021 trends in healthcare technology. Healthcare is the top industry driving the US economy, followed by the technology sector. The intersection of these two, coupled with the best system implementation experience, is a winning combination that can enable health systems to dominate and stay relevant in the industry.
Top Initiatives in 2021 and beyond:
- Virtual care, mobile initiatives, and remote patient monitoring continue to surge. Advancements in telemedicine, virtual care, and robotic surgery will drive down costs while improving access. Virtual care will be the standard model for care while emerging as the preferred triage source for hospitals. I also expect the direct-to-consumer and direct-to-employer care offering from hospitals to continue to grow.
- Foundation technology emerges as a priority. The existing healthcare infrastructure must be upgraded as organizations expand. It’s not ready for future trends to accommodate the work from anywhere mode, along with virtual care.
- Rethinking physical expansion strategies. Many organizations were planning on expanding their physical footprint to expand the reach of care in their community or region. I expect a change or delay in the plan for many healthcare organizations. As I had mentioned above, I expect virtual care platforms to dominate the care model in today’s tech-laden world, leaders must understand that patients still expect delivery to be in-person and that the industry requires a personal touch.
- Enduring effects post COVID-19. Healthcare organizations will work aggressively to return to pre-COVID-19 revenues. I expect a new strategy from every healthcare provider to adapt to the changing dynamics of the world.
- Operational excellence as another way to say “cost-cutting.” Given that healthcare represents 18 percent of the US gross domestic product, government agencies in the U.S. such as CMS and private insurers have ratcheted down reimbursements. C-suite decision makers want to redesign operating models while looking at technology to potentially boost cost savings. These continued pressures will drive leaders to leverage technology.
- Focus on value-based programs misses the mark on population health. Organizations and healthcare leaders often don’t use a whole-person approach. Digital transformation shifts priorities from provider-centric approaches to a model focused on patient experiences and patient-centric delivery.
- Strategic cloud ERP decisions are a must. Health systems must begin aggressive enterprise resource planning (ERP) initiatives. Most have an outdated version of their ERP system, forcing them to make a long-term decision with only two options in play: stick to their current vendor and move to the next-generation cloud ERP solution, or evaluate the cloud ERP market landscape to evaluate a new partnership.
- Administrators emphasize clinician satisfaction. Healthcare leaders must address the challenges of physician burnout and clinical staffing shortages. Organizations are placing emphasis on clinician satisfaction and reevaluating their technology solution design to ensure that it incorporates clinical design thinking. Automating and integrating disparate clinical systems will eliminate the manual workload on clinicians, leading to better efficiency. Health system managers expect that technology automation will help improve clinicians’ job satisfaction by allowing them to work at the top of their skill sets.
- Going global. Health systems in the U.S. are expanding their reach globally as a way to increase patient volume. Medical tourism coming to the U.S. as a destination is still a hot market, and an opportunity to increase net revenue. Collaboration and joint ventures across the world will allow prospective international patients the ability to seek the same quality of care from the U.S. in their home countries.
- Data security risk exposure tops all priorities. An individual’s personal health information is worth at least 25 times more than a credit card’s information on the black market, turning healthcare organizations into prime targets. A security breach in the U.S. costs almost twice as much as other countries; CIOs must ensure that security exposures don’t affect financial results, or they’ll ruin the brand reputation.
This piece was written by David Chou, a healthcare executive leader and longtime advocate for leveraging technology as a competitive advantage. He has held leadership roles with several organizations, including Luye Medical Group, University of Mississippi Medical Center, Cleveland Clinic, and Children’s Mercy Hospital. To follow him on Twitter, click here.