Sluggish growth in health IT and other 2017 predictions

Rebecca Vesely

About Rebecca Vesely

Rebecca Vesely is AHCJ's topic leader on health information technology and a freelance writer. She has written about health, science and medicine for AFP, the Bay Area News Group, Modern Healthcare, Wired, Scientific American online and many other news outlets.

Image by Michael Sheehan via flickr.

Image by Michael Sheehan via flickr.

It’s time for annual predictions for health IT, and it’s no surprise that some are expecting slower growth this year as health providers focus resources on shifting winds expected for insurance coverage and reimbursement.

Black Book Market Research’s nine health care tech trends, drawn from surveys of health care executives, suggests “the brakes being pumped on advanced software acquisitions due to political and funding uncertainty that is menacing long term strategies….”

With 4 out of 5 hospitals and 9 in 10 physicians already having adopted a certified EHR system, spending on health IT is expected to remain flat or decrease, according to Black Book.

So where does that leave reporters who have been covering health IT adoption at their local hospitals?

Well, usability comes to mind. In the Black Book survey, 94 percent of smaller hospitals (200 beds or less) said they are not capturing the information recorded into EHRs to effectively manage patient health. They need data warehouses, data analytics software and other tools to organize, access and manage that patient data.

And interoperability, a priority of the Obama administration, may not advance much in in 2017, according to the survey. A full 88 percent of hospital CIOs told Black Book that they don’t have data exchange improvements in their 2017 budgets.

Other trends to watch include:

  • Further moves towards cloud storage, especially for emergency backup recovery;
  • Readiness planning for cyberattacks;
  • Investment in smoother office functions like referrals and authorizations;
  • Difficulty in recruiting health IT staff, and concerns about restrictions of the H1B Visa program in the new Trump administration to hire skilled IT workers;
  • Movement towards precision medicine, but roadblocks because the basic data tools to implement this level of patient care isn’t widely available yet.

The talented folks over at HealthcareITNews produced a slideshow in the Black Book predictions.

The upshot is reporters will still have a lot of ground to cover on the health IT beat, but the nature of the questions will continue to shift from implementation to usability to improve patient care.

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