These trends in the new year ahead will see healthcare provider organizations innovating solutions and practices to improve healthcare, one expert predicts.
Healthcare information technology will see many changes in 2020 spurred by newer technologies that will enable CIOs and other healthcare leaders to successfully innovate in various areas of healthcare, predicted Tim Costantino, vice president and head of product at AdvancedMD, a vendor of EHR and practice management software.
First and perhaps foremost, artificial intelligence began maturing in healthcare in 2019, and 2020 will see the complex and useful set of technologies really come of age in the industry, Costantino stated.
AI pushing into the mainstream
“Healthcare AI technology is currently in the testing phase and organizations will continue to push into the broad adoption phase,” he said. “The possibilities are endless; the key is that when done successfully, it won’t even feel like AI. AI will simply be another tool in our toolbox to help payers and providers.”
For example, he mentioned AI-powered practice management assistance: patient acquisition, efficient intake and scheduling, and efficient billing. AI will be able to identify patterns between a practice management activity and the end action and predict behavior moving forward.
“Another example, AI-powered EHR assistance,” he said. “Seamless clinical decision support and efficient note-taking and transcribing. For clinical decision support, AI and specifically deep learning can recognize the input results and make recommendations to the physician for next steps. The challenge with AI is reproducibility and understanding the detailed ‘why’ behind the recommendation. As a result, AI likely will be implemented as an assistant to the physician, who ultimately will make the decision.”
A further AI example, Costantino added, is AI-powered patient engagement: Recognizing the patterns that lead to disengagement and automatically taking action to help.
“The simplest pattern could be multiple missed appointments, but that is not a challenge to detect with classical systems,” he said. “AI can combine all of the data inclusive of missed appointments, lead time for scheduling an appointment, time-to-respond to an appointment confirmation, even time of the year, perhaps. Disengagement is seasonal or based on the time of day. The power of AI is the ability to take an ever-increasing set of variables and produce a predictive model with more powerful predictive power than what could be explicitly coded.”
5G’s significant benefits
5G has been blossoming of late, and 2020 will see more of a presence for the wireless networking technology.
“5G will bring a new level of connectivity that will drive a new cycle of innovation,” Costantino said. “5G will bring two significant benefits: increased speed/capacity and much lower latency. The infrastructure currently is being built out, and the development will significantly accelerate in 2020.”
Consumer adoption is happening slowly now but will explode in 2020 as more phones come to the market and 5G-based home/business internet services become available. As a result, organizations will test use-cases and provide a more seamless, better-connected and information-rich experience to customers, he said. LTE brought the likes of Uber, Lyft, mobile shopping and more; 5G will be just as disruptive, he added.
“Specifically, in healthcare, 5G will make telemedicine even more mainstream and seamless as friction of the experience melts away with better speed and much lower latency,” he said. “Moreover, more data will become available in real time to help support more powerful AI systems to manage scheduling, capacity and patient health concerns.”
The end result is that physical barriers between the patient and healthcare will be removed and the healthcare experience will come much closer to home, he added.
The potential of augmented reality
The infrastructure for augmented reality is being laid today. Some phones already have AI engines; hardware for sensing the environment is improving with each generation; and software tools for leveraging the engines and hardware are growing in both sophistication and ease of use, Costantino explained.
“AI and 5G will be accelerants to this trend as we await the eventual mainstream-driving use-case that will take the world by storm,” he said. “In healthcare, vetted use-cases are still being determined but consider these possibilities.”
Telemedicine: Augmented reality will enhance the telemedicine experience as the barriers between the physician office and patient home continues to dissolve, he predicted. “Imagine a doctor and a parent sharing a view of a sick child and the doctor being able to point out what she’s seeing and show the parent what to look out for, how to take care of the child or simply that everything is ok,” he said.
Automatic pill detection: Imagine the possibility of having eyeglasses automatically identify a pill on the counter and tell the patient when he should take it, and whether it should be taken with food,” he suggested. “If you look at another pill after taking the first, it can warn you that there may be an adverse reaction with the two pills taken together.
“These three innovations of 2020 and beyond – AI maturation, 5G and augmented reality – are innovation engines on their own but layering them together creates a landscape of accelerating innovation,” he concluded.