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Health IT 2020: Patient engagement, human-centered tech, interoperability

The chief medical officer and co-founder at patient engagement tech vendor Luma Health provides a view of what provider organizations can expect in the year ahead.

The beginning of this new year sees keen healthcare industry observers looking forward to get a handle on what health IT will bring in the months ahead.

Healthcare IT News asked Dr. Tashfeen Ekram, chief medical officer and co-founder at patient engagement technology vendor Luma Health, to offer his observations on health IT for provider organizations in 2020. He answered by pointing to patient engagement technologies; human-centered, EHR-integrated systems; and the ever-present interoperability.

Patient engagement tech attacks costs

The United States spent about $1.3 trillion for hospital care in 2019, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Patients are bearing the brunt of rising healthcare costs and, as a result, crowdsourcing sites have seen an influx of patients requiring help to pay their medical bills. Some patients are even avoiding the U.S. medical system all together as demonstrated by higher numbers of medical tourism to countries that provide cheaper access to surgeries and other procedures.

“It’s not about securing meaningful use incentives or checking codes to maximize reimbursement. In 2020, human-centered technology will take center stage.”

Dr. Tashfeen Ekram, Luma Health

“Health IT will play a critical role in 2020 to enable more effective processes,” Ekram stated. “To mitigate inflated costs and retain patients, providers this year will implement savvier technology solutions to reach patients, such as telehealth visits or new ways of engaging with patients across their care journey to help them stay on top of their health and well-being.”

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Healthcare also will see an increasing variety of innovative payment and business models to balance cost and outcomes, he added.

Human-centered, EHR-integrated tech

When it comes to health IT, the healthcare industry is getting it all wrong, Ekram insisted.

“It’s not about securing meaningful use incentives or checking codes to maximize reimbursement,” he contended. “In 2020, human-centered technology will take center stage. These are solutions that are designed around the patient so that their ability to access the care they need comes first.”

The adoption of today’s new breed of advanced EHR-integrated technology will continue to grow as providers seek to automate all of the things that get in the way of a patient-friendly experience – from online scheduling and rescheduling to capturing the key patient data required pre-appointment, he said.

For patients in 2020, that means shorter wait times, a better experience at the doctor’s, and, most important, better health outcomes, he added.

The lingua franca of healthcare

The pursuit to democratize access to health data across providers and patients alike remains a critical one.

But only by breaking down the data silos that providers, devices and wearables build can EHR systems be gleaned for the treasure troves of insight and help provide increasingly personalized medicine for better clinical outcomes, Ekram said.

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“Amazon, Google, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle and Salesforce have pledged to open up interoperability via their involvement in FHIR, but this past year, CMS might have made the biggest move in interoperability by opening up an API for access to patient billing data via https://dpc.cms.gov/,” he noted. “And when CMS decides on something, history shows that most will follow.”

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