2018 predictions from the editor

Jan. 25, 2018
Janette Wider,
Editor

Last year was my first year working as an editor in health information technology. I dove in head first. After three days at the office, I attended HIMSS17—and I was hooked. I was (and still am) astounded by the growth and innovation in the healthcare space. At the show, I wondered, how could all of this get any more advanced?

As we enter 2018, I’m no longer wondering. This edition, we ask a variety of industry experts for their predictions as well as their primary focus for the year. It’s only fitting that I give a few predictions myself, as our primary focus this year—and every year—is to continue to give our readers thought-provoking articles and news from our ever-evolving industry.

In 2018, we’re going to see telehealth continue to make strides. According to Alan Roga, M.D., President of Teledoc Hospital and Health Systems, “…76% of health systems will be implementing consumer telehealth by December of 2018.” This to me seems like a no-brainer. Telehealth is taking a major role in the healthcare industry and continues to benefit patients and providers. If a health system decides to opt out of the telehealth movement, they’ll be left in the waiting room. With younger, busier, individuals seeking care, they want the most convenient option, and telehealth visits are just that. I also see a huge swing toward telebehavorial health evolving in 2018. Unfortunately, there is still stigma surrounding taking care of one’s mental health. A telehealth visit to a therapist or a psychiatrist can remove some of the worries that patients may have—such as setting up an appointment, who they may run into in the waiting room, and of course, the convenience of being able to have the appointment from his or her own home.

My next prediction is a somewhat obvious one: Organizations will focus on cybersecurity. 2017 was littered with cyberattacks, ransomware, and phishing scams—WannaCry, Petya, Locky, and more all took place causing devastating effects. As we all know, the healthcare industry is at risk. I’m afraid 2018 won’t be any different, unless organizations make a conscious effort to step up their cybersecurity game. What terrifies me the most, is something David Finn, EVP of Strategic Innovation at CynergisTek said, “The next major attack vector is network-connected medical devices. Some predict that within three years, we will see our first $100 million class-action suit against a medical device maker for negligence, resulting from a cyberattack.” I think this is a real possibility, and healthcare organizations need to start implementing more serious cybersecurity guidelines, starting with training for their employees on best practices.

Finally, I’d like to make my third and final prediction. Artificial intelligence will see investments from healthcare organizations due to its promise to transform the healthcare experience. Here’s an example: Jennifer Esposito, Worldwide General Manager, Health & Life Sciences at Intel said, “Saffron, an AI company acquired by Intel, and West Virginia University Heart and Vascular Institute are using machine learning to discern between serious heart conditions with very similar symptoms, which have long vexed even experienced cardiologists. Using Saffron’s National Intelligence Platform, as well as associative memory classification, we reached a 90% accuracy rate in diagnosing constrictive pericarditis and cardiomyopathy. The insights gained from AI illustrate that, rather than functioning as a replacement for doctors, AI is a powerful tool that helps deliver more cost-effective care.” I’ve heard a lot of talk about AI taking over for doctors or researchers, making their jobs obsolete, but the promise of doctors working with the technology is one that I foresee truly bettering the healthcare experience all around.

A new year is seen as a new start, and I believe that 2018 is a perfect time for one in our industry. There are so many promising technologies—not just the ones touched upon in this piece—to explore that will advance healthcare into the future.

As always, thanks for reading; I welcome your feedback at [email protected].

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