Four tech trends in healthcare in 2017
Trend #4: Big data solutions for population health management
While it’s unclear how the Trump administration will impact value-based care, payers across the country continue moving forward with these new care models. Thus, Morris notes that providers will be under increased pressure to use data to drive decision-marking around new payment models, lower unit costs, and engage with consumers.
Still, as with EHRs, the limiting factor is the needed capital investment for these types of platforms. While vendors could make a strong argument that investments in these solutions today will lead to savings and enhanced revenue tomorrow, a Deloitte Center for Health Solutions survey of 50 large provider chief information officers indicated that healthcare IT spending will be flat in 2017, says Morris.
What complicates matters is providers will continue to be under pressure to measure performance on population health measures, specifically. “There is a new age of expectations for dashboard builds from both customer and analytics team perspectives,” says Morris. “Gone are the days of lengthy report requests, aged data, and untimely information.”
Users today are demanding access to drillable, interactive, and current information, he says. That’s everything from basic Excel-based platforms, to machine-learning, voice recognition, real-time data analytics on a mobile device—and having that information on one, easy-to-use dashboard.
Morris is starting to notice some payers and providers working to better share data and data analysis. What matters to both payers and providers is the ability to jointly deliver high-quality care and drive down costs, while driving market share. That’s their goal, which is incenting both parties to collaborate, he says.
Risk is going to continue to shift from payers to providers, and the only way for providers to manage that risk is through prevention, says Tony Jones, MD, chief commercial officer at Lumiata, which provides analytics tools to help payers and providers assess risk. For example, to prevent patients with diabetes and chronic kidney disease from progressing to fairly advanced diabetes or stage 3 or 4 kidney disease, providers need to be able to easily access lab and claims data.
But that’s not the extent of the data providers and payers will need going forward. “There’s some truth to the fact that you can tell more about the health of a person by their zip code than by their claims history,” says Jones. “If a patient is living in a neighborhood where they’re surrounded by Fast Food restaurants and no good supermarkets, you can make pretty good predictions about their health, especially when you combine it with lab and claims data. Access to this data gives you a much better indication [that] they’re likely to have diabetes or kidney disease.”
It’s in payers’ interest to work together to develop and share this data with providers because it goes back to the macroeconomic shift or the trend associated with risk, says Jones.
“Whether it’s an ACO or a shared savings plan, payers and providers are asking the same question: How do I avoid costs?” he says. “There’s a fairly big shift, in that there are doctor groups within ACOs that are hungry for this data because they want to know how to treat these patients. They want to be able to identify who’s at risk; these are people they may not see until they show up [in their hospitals or clinics].”
Aine Cryts is a writer based in Boston.