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HIMSS Analytics sees longer-term growth for telemedicine, biometric security and many more

From revenue cycle management to precision medicine, its newest report projects hospital demand for more than 80 health IT applications over the next 24 months
 
HIMSS Analytics' newest Essentials Brief offers a look back at health IT market trends in 2016 – and ahead to the rest of this year and beyond, projecting purchasing demand for 81 different applications in 2017 and 2018.
 
In examining areas such analytics, telehealth, precision medicine and population health, the aim is to gauge hospital technology needs in the next 12 to 24 months, said HIMSS Analytics Director of Research, Brendan FitzGerald.
 
"Given everything that's occurred from an adoption standpoint since 2008 and 2009, where are organizations going?" he said. "Where do they still need IT help to deliver on their vision?"
 
The 2016 Year in Review & 2017 through 2018 HIT Demand Forecasts Study is a bit different than the usual HIMSS Analytics reports, said Fitzgerald – broader-based and more forward looking.
 
"We have, statistically, analyzed historical demand and adoption," he said. "We've essentially added to that our algorithm for forward-looking predictive adoption, and basically come up with the next 24 months of where 81 different applications will be from a hospital adoption perspective."
 
Among the in-demand technologies on hospitals' radar screens over the next two years, HIMSS Analytics sees certain trend lines emerging among particular categories of application type.
 
1. Precision medicine. A smallish number of respondents (29 percent) to HIMSS Analytics' survey said they're pursuing precision medicine initiatives – understandable, given the capital expense, technology infrastructure and clinical expertise necessary to make the most of genomics. But the report says precision med will be a "primary topic of interest across the industry in 2017" and beyond as health systems seek to bring tailored treatments to their patients.
 
2. Telemedicine. Long underutilized, telemedicine appears to be on an uptick: purchase of applications increased about 3.5 percent from 2015 to 2016.  HIMSS finds long-distance care evolving beyond the more obvious uses of serving the underserved, with the technology increasingly being leveraged for broader patient engagement initiatives, population health projects and ACOs. More organizations are also launching specialized virtual care facilities equipped with telemedicine tools.
 
3. Security. Biometric technology is "slowly gaining momentum" as a means to enable security, according the report. While now mainly used for medication dispensing and employee ID, HIMSS Analytics expects other uses to proliferate over the next couple years, as it's applied to patient records and other data sources.
 
4. Outpatient practice management and EHR. Ambulatory sites still lag hospitals when it comes to electronic health record ubiquity, but they're getting pretty close to universal adoption, with HIMSS Analytics showing that 92 percent of hospital-owned practices have EHRs, along with 78 percent of independent practices. Still, "activity in this market has not slowed," according to the report. That's mainly a function of additional regulations – MACRA, most notably – that call on providers to improving their clinical practice or face penalties. Practices are keeping these technologies top of mind as they try to survive in a value-based world, and should continue to in the years ahead.
 
5. Revenue cycle management. The market for denials management tools is set for a flurry of activity in 2017 and 2018. While billing, collections and EDI have been commonplace at hospitals (90 percent market penetration) for years, just 44 percent of respondents told HIMSS Analytics that they use denial management technology. "Significant green space exists" for those and similar tools, given the attenuated care-to-payment ratio across the industry, according to the report.
 
6. Population health. Population health management programs are becoming de rigeur, with 76 percent of respondents in 2016 saying they have them in place, compared to 67 percent in 2015. But there's still a lot to do to make sure they're sustainable, and able to improve outcomes on a wide scale. That leaves plenty of room for analytics vendors to make themselves heard in a busy market.
 
7. Clinical and business intelligence. Somewhat surprisingly, just 41 percent of respondents said they make use of clinical and business intelligence tools for their analytics. But the steady proliferation of data across healthcare – and its potential to drive pop health, precision medicine and value-based care initiatives, that number is sure to be on the uptick in the next two years.
 
 

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