Scott Mace, for HealthLeaders Media , September 4, 2012In honor of National Health IT Week next week, here are my top 10 predictions for healthcare IT for the next 12 months—none of them involving Meaningful Use or ICD-10!
1. Patients ask, where's my data? Patients will organize a single-day national event called Where's My Medical Data, in which providers and payers will be besieged by emails and phone calls from patients wanting their medical records. Patients will complain loudly at the slowness of the responses, the outright refusal by some providers, and the complexity of the records received.
While the scenario might not play out exactly in this form, I heard this proposal floated at the recent Healthcare Unbound conference in San Francisco, where it received the encouragement of Farzad Mostashari, the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology within the federal Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. It hasn't yet become an ONC initiative (they are a little busy right now), but patients might lead the way.
2. Higher software prices allow EMR makers to staff up. Providers in turn will call upon software makers of electronic medical records to redesign their products to allow easy generation of records for patient use. A rise in the cost of such products, due to a supply squeeze, will enable EMR software makers to raid the ranks of other high-tech companies such as Google and Microsoft in order to staff up. But the principles embodied in Fred Brooks' timeless book, The Mythical Man-Month, will slow progress; adding designers and programmers still doesn't produce linear progress in software.
3. The human touch becomes a major tech issue. A bumper sticker spotted where I live in Berkeley, CA, says, "It's become appallingly clear that our technology has surpassed our humanity." We are running a risk of losing the human touch in an age of health tech marvels. Teams may be communicating better than ever, but from the patient's point of view it's a blur of emails, messages, phone calls, and faces. The medical home is one response to the depersonalization of medicine. Can tech provide other "repersonalizing" experiences? Examples include videoconferencing, social networking, technology-mediated support groups, and simple time on the phone with a physician.