Where Healthcare Technology is Headed in 2016: Five Predictions

Make no mistake, a lot can happen in a year – even in an industry as large as healthcare technology.

Predictions about where an industry is headed, especially one as complex as healthcare technology, should best be thought of as trajectories rather than binary "did/did not happen" events. Here are five trajectories you can expect to see unfold in 2016.

The value-based train picks up steam, especially for those organizations that have been slow to embrace alternate payment models.
We all know the official timeline CMS laid out in early 2015 that 90% of payments would shift from fee-for-service to value-based payments by 2018. Despite the clear, unambiguous move to value, some in the industry have still been slow to transition their organization. However in 2016, expect to see those organizations that have been reluctant to make the shift finally make clear moves to alternative payment models. The significance of this should not be understated, especially as it pertains to technology adoption.

The Care Management/Coordination Record rises in importance, especially as team-based care models expand.
Some call it a Care Management Medical Record and others call it a Care Coordination Record. Regardless of the term, the concept is essentially the same. EMRs excel at capturing in-person encounters, but as care expands beyond those encounters, capturing and tracking what happens between patient visits will be of utmost importance. In addition, enabling care teams to stay on the same page about a patient's care plan, tracking action steps, and reducing the friction of working together will be crucial to succeeding in a value-based world. Expect to see the Care Management Record concept start catching fire in 2016.

The terms "care coordination" and "patient engagement" will continue being abused, misused, and watered down.
These terms by themselves have become almost meaningless. There are countless healthcare vendors claiming to deliver on one or both of these capabilities. Seemingly, most companies use these terms "in name only" in an attempt to capture market interest. The onus is on every product company to be very clear just how it enables patient engagement or care coordination. In 2016, the market will start weeding out those products that are patient engagement and care coordination in name only, while rewarding those companies that are actually able to deliver clear value.

Integrating devices and device data into care delivery processes will remain a niche activity.
The enthusiasm around wearables, trackers, and remote monitoring is exciting and there is enormous potential for device data to impact the delivery of care in ways that benefit both patient and provider. But the technology hasn't caught up with the promise of what they can be, and that won't change in 2016. Not only is the technology not yet able to deliver, but the incentives and processes to support wide-scale deployment are not yet in place. Though all signs point to wearables becoming an integral part of delivery of care, this won't happen next year.

Demand increases for consumer-grade user experiences in healthcare enterprise software.
For so long, clinicians on the frontlines of care delivery have had to struggle with software that's hard to use, difficult, and downright frustrating. The biggest culprit for poor user experiences in healthcare software has to do with the enterprise purchasing process. Vendors build for buyers, like the C-suite, who aren't also the end users. If the end user and the buyer were the same, you'd see healthcare software vendors value user experience like what we see in other B2B industries, not to mention B2C industries. Regardless, in 2016 we will see more buyers value products with consumer-grade user experiences. Much of this has to do with end users' reluctance, and sometimes outright resistance, to adopting technology in their work life. Clinicians often get a bad wrap for being technology averse. But in reality, it's not that they're averse to technology; it's that they're averse to bad technology.

This article was originally published in Becker's Hospital Review.