Top 7 Trends That Will Drive Healthcare in 2021

2020 brought along challenges as well as opportunities for diverse sectors including healthcare. We’re now stepping into an era of digital transformation that will push the boundaries for healthcare in incredible ways with a profound impact.

As per the Council for Affordable Quality Healthcare’s 2020 Index, the US healthcare industry is missing out on billions of dollars in potential annual savings due to lack of adequate workflow automation to carry out common business transactions. Apart from the $122 billion that it has already saved through automation, it can save an additional $16.3 billion by fully adopting nine common transactions.

The CAQH said in a statement, “For example, each fully automated claims status inquiry costs $11.71 less than the same transaction conducted manually for the medical industry and $10.92 less for the dental industry. Similarly, every eligibility and benefit verification converted from manual to electronic saves the medical industry $8.64 and the dental industry $8.75. Considering the millions of times these transactions occur every day, the savings potential across the healthcare economy is significant.”

The healthcare sector is now more focused than ever on simplifying workflows and reducing the burden associated with administrative tasks while keeping automation at the helm of all its initiatives. We bring to the fore the top 7 trends in healthcare that iterate the role of automation in making patient-centered, outcome-based systems a priority.

  1. API-enabled EHRs to improve interoperability

Application Programming Interface (API) enabled EHRs means patients get better access to data and manage healthcare outside the healthcare facility using their smartphones or computers. API adoption enhances interoperability and patient data sharing between providers thereby reducing clinical burden, and facilitates better care coordination. When deployed correctly, next-gen APIs create secure and compliant integrations to provide actionable data and advanced care through multiple avenues and channels.

Ben Moscovitch, project director of Health Information Technology at Pew Charitable Trusts opines, “If standard APIs were broadly adopted in health care, patients could access and compile their data from multiple providers while clinicians could process complicated information and make care recommendations. APIs would also offer other benefits, such as facilitating the exchange of clinical data among health care providers.”

  1. Robotic process automation or RPA for scaling operational efficiency

The data collected from various internal and external sources such as insurance portals, third-party portals, ERPs, clinical applications, scheduling applications, etc. can be overwhelming, and streamlining the flow of information across all these channels can be a labor-intensive task. Robotic Process Automation provides the much-needed respite by extracting relevant information from multiple sources and automating routine tasks to reduce costs, minimize errors, and improve operational efficiency.

According to Gartner, 50% of healthcare providers in the U.S. will invest in RPA in the next 3 years as a means to optimize costs and healthcare resources giving further impetus to RPA adoption. Explains Dr. Anurag Gupta, research vice president at Gartner, “Cost optimization is a consistently recurring theme among healthcare providers. The money that RPA saves by not having to spend as much on an unreformed process translates into cash that is available for front-end clinical functions, which is especially important while healthcare organizations combat the COVID-19 crisis.”

  1. Telehealth for remote care

Telehealth has been instrumental in providing care virtually during the pandemic that made social distancing mandatory. In no time, everyone was convinced about its immense potential and is fast becoming a preferred form of medical care. As President of VirtualMed Staff, Jack Williams explains, “When patients feel their care is as good or better than a routine visit in person, all from the comfort of home, those same patients will no longer endure long wait times when it is avoidable.”

Using technologies such as streaming media and video conferencing, telehealth will allow patients to choose healthcare providers and services irrespective of their geographic location through digital telehealth platforms. It will eliminate patient no-shows, travel time, wait time, etc. ensuring better efficiency and revenue for medical practitioners. Telehealth is also playing a pivotal role in improving disaster emergency response services through advanced volunteer registration, biological surveillance, hospital bed availability tracking, patient record management, etc.

Telehealth will continue to play a big role in addressing the healthcare needs of patients as part of their long-term healthcare plan even after the pandemic is behind us. A hybrid healthcare model has emerged ever since the pandemic accelerated advances in remote managed care for those with chronic conditions and those who had COVID-19 symptoms but did not require hospitalization. What we can now expect is a combination of telehealth and in-person visits to manage everything from routine follow-ups to critical care.

  1. Cloud-based LIMS for continuous access to data

The global Laboratory Information Management Systems (LIMS) market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 14.1% from 2019 to touch $2.21 billion by 2026. What was earlier conceptualized as a system to record test samples and particulars about donor and patient samples has now evolved to join the league of next-gen healthcare solutions using cloud technology.

LIMS on the cloud can connect multiple stakeholders and give users complete control over sample tracking, processing, and delivering while attaining scalability in their business. Patients too can track their records and maintain personal health data easily. LIMS software can schedule appointments and follow-ups for healthcare specialists and time slots of lab equipment in a highly efficient manner.

The modern LIMS software can be leveraged effectively as an interface between lab equipment and other devices in real time to enable the import and export of data for better coordination.

  1. Salesforce health cloud for improved patient experience

Salesforce health cloud provides a complete view of patients through easy-to-decipher dashboards that collate data from different sources to unite healthcare provider siloes. Using this data, healthcare providers can map the entire patient journey understanding their relationships to specialists at different junctures of healthcare.

Data is collected from different sources such as EHRs, medical devices, wearable activity trackers, etc. to build a patient history that includes details such as medical history, current medical conditions, lab results, etc. Salesforce admins can incorporate the necessary security features to ensure security compliance and also provide an omnichannel experience to patients so as to allow them to reach out for care from an app or channel they are most comfortable with.

  1. Artificial intelligence and integrated wearable technology for better health management

Although AI has been around for years, it has now become ubiquitous and a game-changer from a clinical, operational, and financial point of view. With machine learning, AI can segregate data, so that healthcare providers understand patients and their condition better to make more informed decisions. Shared insights across a large patient population can help chart the treatment course for patients to ensure better outcomes in the future.

AI is now helping develop predictive models during the pandemic to track the virus and estimate the risk based on the spread of the disease. It is also playing a big role in genomics – the study of an individual’s genes – attaching findings to electronic medical records of patients to optimize clinical decision-making.

Also trending are wearables that allow individuals to record steps, heart rates, blood pressure, and overall exercise regime. The global wearable market is expected to increase in size at a CAGR of 15.9% from 2020 to 2027 from USD 32.63 billion in 2019.
With AI and machine learning in the picture, wearables will help transform clinical research and treatment protocols while ensuring better more positive outcomes in healthcare.

  1. A digital front door to offer personalized care

Social distancing brought along a new challenge for healthcare providers – ramping up their digital capabilities to stay connected with patients during their hour of need. The idea of having a digital front door thus became necessary which was expected to be simple to use but purpose-built.

Writes Bruce Orcutt is Vice President of Marketing at ABBYY – Patients need healthcare services that can meet them where they are: in their own homes. Utilizing video platforms, native apps, and personalized web portals, digital healthcare offerings support a healthcare system that is convenient, timely, and best meets the needs of a wide array of patients.

No matter where a provider is on their digital journey, it is important to have granular, accurate, and comprehensive data to widen the digital front door. Discovering and analyzing operational processes and identifying bottlenecks will be important steps to enhancing operational workflows, reducing patient wait times, and creating a seamless patient experience. Considering that a digital front door creates first impressions in the minds of patients when they approach a healthcare facility, many are now investing in mobile apps for their organizations to host patient portals, telehealth visits, and other chores.

Wrapping up

The healthcare industry is all set to attain new frontiers with transformative technologies at its helm. At Trigent, we help healthcare organizations deploy future-ready technologies to get a 360-degree view of their people, processes, and data. We believe connected healthcare is the key to improving patient engagement and delivering quality care.

Allow us to help you with integrated healthcare solutions that will drive the future. Book a consultation today to know more.

By Anjana Sadanandan

Anjana Sadanandan works as Manager - Web Content at Trigent. She has a strong marketing communication background and has worked with several multinational organizations.

View all of Anjana Sadanandan's posts.

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