8 Ways Healthcare Technology is Changing Clinical Practice
By Debra Wood,
technology continues to evolve at a rapid pace, altering how clinicians
practice—from delivering patient care to documentation.
Here is a look
at some of the up-and-coming technologies in healthcare that could influence
physician jobs and work opportunities for advanced practitioners.
New Technologies in
Healthcare: 8 Top Trends
1. Artificial intelligence
intelligence (AI), computers learning to think more like people, is making its
way into healthcare technology. Algorithms draw on data to allow computers to
perform specific tasks.
“It’s one of
the most powerful technologies we have at our disposal,” said David West, CEO
and founder of Proscia, which uses AI to identify patterns on pathology slides.
“The application to pathology is a massive opportunity.”
Pathologists are in short supply. They
will still make the final report, but the computer assistance may allow each
pathologist to read more slides.
“This change is
happening fast,” West said. “What is possible is still working its way into the
According to the
Top of Mind 2018 Health IT Trends Report from the Center for
Connected Medicine and the Health Management Academy, more than half of
healthcare systems plan or have implemented AI health technology, yet 63
percent of health system executives said it was a low priority. Most of those
organizations deploying AI use it for clinical decision support.
2. Telehealth and virtual visits
virtual visits are expected to grow as reimbursements become more common.
During the 2017-2018 flu season, several hospitals were referring patients to
The Top of Mind
report indicated 79 percent of responding facilities use telehealth for stroke
and 58 percent for psychology. Seventy-five percent indicate they implemented telehealth
to improve quality and safety. Additionally, the report said only 39 percent
get paid for virtual visits, but they hope that will increase moving forward.
On July 12,
2018, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced their
proposal for a
new rule that
includes paying for virtual visits. The rule would
allow patients to text photos to their physicians for evaluation, and
Medicare-covered telehealth services would include prolonged preventive
will start paying for virtual check-ins," CMS Administrator Seema Verma
said during the press call. She pointed out that these virtual visits are
intended to augment office visits, but not replace them.
Telemedicine Trends in 2018
3. Patient-generated data and remote
The Top of Mind
report found 100 percent of health care systems surveyed planned to promote
health and wellness apps, yet only 17 percent expect those apps to provide
Patients wear Fitbits
and Apple Watches, tracking their steps. Others electronically monitor sleep
and diet. Apps, such as AliveCor, allow patients to take a medical grade
electrocardiogram with their smartphone. Data from some of these tools can be
sent to the provider, giving insight into the patient’s condition but also adding
to a clinician’s workload.
can talk. Some could be programmed to remind patients to take their medicine or
their daily weight. Other robots may be able to help nurses lift patients. Robots
already deliver medications, supplies and linens in some hospitals. And robots
are becoming more accepted by patients, who often have one to vacuum their
In the future, “robots
will take on attributes of personal assistants like Alexa, able to interact and
follow voice commands,” said Ronnie Vuine, co-founder and CEO of
Micropsi-Industries, a robotics software company in Berlin, Germany. “We anticipate robotic assistants will soon be able to
help the elderly or disabled, a growing challenge for nearly every country,
since there aren’t enough people to serve as healthcare aides.”
5. Genomic medicine
Geisinger Health System in Pennsylvania
plans on sequencing patients’ DNA as a preventive health measure. That DNA may
indicate an increased risk of certain diseases and provide physicians with
information to anticipate patient’s needs. For instance, physicians have
detected cancers earlier in Geisinger patients participating in the program.
More than half
of respondents to the Top of Mind survey, 57 percent, report using or planning
to offer genomic testing and personalized medicine.
are small, freestanding inpatient facilities with some of the latest healthcare
technology, cropping up in numerous locations. Physician jobs may include
treating patients in these small hospitals, primarily located in fast-growing
areas, according to The ERCI Institute’s 2018 Top 10 Hospital C-suite Watch
Emerus, which touts
itself as “The nation’s leading developer of micro-hospitals,” operates 28 such
facilities in Texas, Nevada and Colorado, employs about
1,850 people and has served more than 1 million patients.
7. Computer-assisted clinical documentation
clinical documentation can result in greater reimbursement and quality data.
Computer-aided systems, such as those from ChartWise Medical Systems, can leave
physicians more time for patients.
cardiologist Jon Elion, MD, founder of ChartWise, said he knows
before he leaves the house in the morning which patients have been admitted to
the hospital. It helps him prioritize his day.
ChartWise queries physicians about information in an
electronic health record (EHR) that is not noted in the doctor progress notes.
Coders cannot code a diagnosis unless it is in those notes. The coder can ask
for clarification. When the physician answers, the information is added to the
“It doesn’t just help reimbursement,” Elion said. “It helps
you figure out how sick the patients are.”
8. Specialized EHRs
While the big electronic-documentation
vendors have made tremendous inroads, the market has expanded to include more
niche players, with systems tailored to specific types of practices. One
example is T-System for emergency departments and urgent care, where physicians
have little or no historical information about the patient.
“Information sharing with the patient
and future care providers is enhanced through integrated capabilities,” said
Robert Hitchcock, MD, FACEP, executive vice president and general manager of
documentation for T-System. “Efficient and accurate care documentation and
decision-making is enhanced through streamlined user interfaces and clinical
decision support tool integration into clinical workflows.”
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