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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.

5 Trends for FY15 that will shape the future of health & healthcare delivery

5 Trends for FY15 that will shape the future of health & healthcare delivery

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ConsultHappy 4th of July! Or perhaps I should say, Happy New Year. You see, my company operates on a fiscal calendar so July marks the beginning a our new fiscal year. This is when I start reflecting on the most significant trends that I’m seeing in health and healthcare delivery and how these trends are playing out across the world. So here’s what’s hot for FY15.

Healthcare Moves Even Faster to the Cloud

First-movers are already there. Sure, there are still some concerns about privacy, security, and data sovereignty. But there is already more than enough evidence to convince most rational health and IT executives that healthcare’s future is in the cloud. Do you really think data is more secure in the basement of your facility, or that you can scale your own data centers and servers fast enough to meet the ever increasing demands for storing all that data, including medical image archiving, backup, and disaster recovery? Do you really want to manage e-mail, file, storage, analytics, communication and collaboration technologies locally, or would your precious IT resources be better spent on projects that directly improve patient care-- which is after all the primary focus of your organization’s business. It’s time to take advantage of infrastructure as a service, platform as a service, compute and analytics as a service, and productivity, communication and collaboration as a service so you can devote more resources to innovation in patient care

More Clinicians Embrace Next Generation Tablets & Mobile Apps

I used to say that technology and mobile devices weren’t yet good enough for healthcare. I no longer say that. Contemporary, cloud first-mobile first solutions have come of age. Applications and devices in a wide variety of sizes and shapes are now available, They will meet the end-user requirements of highly mobile healthcare professionals (even the really fussy ones) while meeting the enterprise IT requirements of our hospitals and clinics. Clinicians now have an amazing variety of choices in the devices and applications they use.

imageSmart Companies “Skin the Front End” of Clinical Systems

OK. I know. You still hate your EMR. But things are getting better. One trend I see is the emergence of companies with creative solutions to improve the user experience with many of today’s legacy EMR/HIS solutions. I call this “skinning the front end”. Around the world I am beginning to encounter vendors who can aggregate and integrate clinical systems, administrative tools, patient education, hospital entertainment and communication solutions into a common user interface that is more intuitive to use and pleasurable for clinicians and patients alike.

imageNew Models Arise for HIE

As multi-million or multi-billion dollar Health Information Exchange projects continue to bite the dust around the world due to cost, complexity and failed business models, I see real enthusiasm for a different kind of architecture that is cloud-first and patient-centered. Don’t connect everything to everything. Connect everything to the patient in a secure, cloud based account. Give the patient control, and let him or her share their information with whomever needs to see it. Bingo! Now you have not just a local or regional HIE, but one that is actually global. Give the consumer choice. It’s the model that’s important. So long as data can flow from one trusted repository to another at the patient’s discretion, all the consumer needs to know is who they trust with their data, and how to get access to it when it’s needed.

Consumers Pay More, Demand More from the Industry

It’s time to stop doing pilots and start delivering new services at scale. Technology can solve for many of the most annoying service issues in healthcare delivery. Let’s connect. Let’s use contemporary communication and collaboration tools to deliver health information and services to patients. Let’s use more kiosks and self-service strategies to run healthcare more like the airlines or top-notch, online retailers. Let’s fix the inane reimbursement models that get in the way of allowing providers to practice the way consumers want to be served. Let’s put patients first and start organizing healthcare services around them instead of around clinicians. In FY15, some of the largest and most disruptive technology companies will be putting even more power into the hands of patients to collect their own data, access information, and make choices about the care they receive. Be a part of the solution, not an admirer of the problem.

So, there you have it--my FY15 predictions for what will be hotter than a sparkler on the Fourth of July.

Bill Crounse, MD                    Senior Director, Worldwide Health              Microsoft

  • Still, even if patient is given control over his/her information, there remains the problem of standards and how to exchange data. Do you think is it needed some sort of international body (eg. w3c) to establish how to communicate to patients' data? or is there an available alternative right now that we should support?

  • I think there are enough standards in place to create and share essential health information. Examples include HL7 compliant CCD or CDA document architecture. If we even had universal hospital/clinic EMR connectivity and exchange capability with a patient/citizen cloud-based account and the records contained nothing more than patient demographics, payor information, up to date problem and medication list, allergies and immunizations; we would be leagues ahead of where we are now. And under the model I'm proposing, we would also have not a local or regional exchange, but one that is truly global in scale.

    Bill Crounse, MD

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