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Thoughts, comments, news, and reflections about healthcare IT from Microsoft's worldwide health senior director Bill Crounse, MD, on how information technology can improve healthcare delivery and services around the world.

Taking a deeper look at top healthcare IT trends and predictions for 2013

Taking a deeper look at top healthcare IT trends and predictions for 2013

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imageHappy New Year to HealthBlog readers around the world. I hope you had a wonderful holiday. As evident from this post, I’m now back in the saddle after enjoying more than two weeks away with family and friends. 

It seems that the blogosphere is exploding with articles predicting Health IT trends for 2013. It appears that most of the usual industry experts and pundits have weighed in on the topic over the last few weeks. One article that caught my attention was a thoughtful piece by ZDNet Health contributing writer and RN, Denise Amrich. As a physician, I have a lot of respect for nurses and the patient care contributions they make every day. They, perhaps even more than many doctors, are down in the trenches of patient care. They offer first-hand, valuable perspectives on what works and what doesn’t in clinical workflow. In the blog piece, “Top 5 healthcare IT trends to look out for in 2013”, Ms. Amrich solicits thoughts from ZDNet Health columnist, David Gewirtz, and provides comments on some of his picks for top industry trends.

The top trends listed in the article are: the continuing growth of electronic health records; tablet (computers) everywhere; pressure to allow BYOD (bring your own device); vastly increased cyber-security threats targeting healthcare; and the growth of app-enabled consumer tech. What strikes me most about these predicted trends is an over-arching theme in each that points to the importance of usability, data security, and device manageability in healthcare industry settings. Frankly, the explosive growth and popularity of connected consumer devices and applications has had a profound impact on the variety of devices and the ways they are being used by healthcare professionals in our hospitals and clinics. While this has been very good for advancing the use of IT by healthcare professionals, it has become quite worrisome as well. Many of these consumer devices and applications were never intended for use by healthcare professionals in patient care settings. What we therefore have today is organic growth driving the use of Health IT, not necessarily growth that was architected or really planned by anyone. This calls for an entirely new approach.

I’ve written about the impact that this “consumerization of IT” is having in health and healthcare in several previous HealthBlog posts that have been released over the past few months. I’ve also revealed some of the work that Microsoft is doing to improve usability, alleviate potential security and privacy risks, and provide tools to help IT professionals manage the diversity of devices being used in healthcare settings today.  See:

Why Windows 8 is a compelling choice for clinicians around the world

5 things healthcare organizations must know before moving to the cloud

Using communication and collaboration tools to improve patient care and clinical workflow

Perfect devices, the perfect OS, and great applications – no compromises for clinical computing

Windows Phone 8 – right for healthcare

Microsoft Surface – Just what the doctor ordered?

I would encourage you to take a look, or perhaps a second look, at these articles and reflect on how and why what I’m discussing helps solve some of the most pressing issues in Health IT and clinical computing. I believe you’ll also begin to appreciate how this ties to the predicted trends. As we dip our toes into 2013, I think the year holds great promise for some significant improvements and advances in the Health IT industry.

Bill Crounse, MD           Senior Director, Worldwide Health                     Microsoft

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