5 Healthcare Trends to Watch For in 2016

2835In 2015, we heard time and time again that the healthcare landscape was changing rapidly as we moved from a fee for service world to a risk-based/value-based world. But what does that mean? Essentially, providers used to get paid for doing procedures and under new healthcare regulations they are incentivized to avoid unnecessary procedures. The implications are that providers and healthcare networks most move from old siloed systems to interoperable and collaborative frameworks. In 2016, we’ll see a continued move in this direction across healthcare and particularly medical imaging, as new innovations make interoperability a reality.

Here are the top 5 health care trends to keep your eye on in 2016 and stay tuned for a handy infographic after trend #2.

1) Patients Seek Access to Care from Anywhere at Anytime 

Patient adoption of health-related apps nearly doubled over the last two years. About 32% of consumers had at least one health app on their phones in 2015, up from only 16% in 2013, according to a PwC report. Many are also calling 2016 the year of telemedicine. The Global Telemedicine market in 2016 is predicted to be $27 billion, with Virtual Health Services making up $16 billion of that amount (BBC Research and Towers Watson). 

Particularly, as the tech savvy millennial generation moves into the medical field, we may see an increase in physicians who both accept and encourage the use of mobile apps to monitor patient health.  Over 90% of MDs said that digital health devices will become an important part of their practice and over half shared a willingness to prescribe medications based off a vital signs biosensor tool.

2) The Cloud Will Become a Core Method of Enhancing Interoperability

The Cloud has already gained wide acceptance by healthcare executives with over 83% using the Cloud today. As our healthcare system moves in a direction of interoperability, rapid image sharing and storage becomes a priority. Redundant imaging exams due to lost or missing data pose both a risk to the health of patients and high costs to facilities.

It has also been found that emergency departments using image enabled HIEs were 8.7 percent less likely to repeat CT scans, 9 percent less likely to repeat ultrasounds, and 13 percent less likely to repeat chest x-rays. These decreases alone are enough to save $19 million dollars annually across the United State

In addition, with the rise of telemedicine, individuals in rural areas or even those across the globe may seek a second opinion and need a secure method of quickly sharing images. The Cloud can deliver powerful scale and value in these situations. For example, the DICOM Grid Cloud has shown 75% efficiency improvement in the sharing and retrieving of images. Facilities have also seen a 26% growth in referrals for providers.


3) FDA Mandates PACS Compliance Requirements

The ability to reliably retrieve a backup copy of imaging data that might be otherwise lost due to hardware/software or network failures is no longer just good practice, but a federally mandated requirement. Don’t take the risk! The FDA has warned healthcare facilities that in 2016 it may take compliance actions if their PACS fails and all images are lost due to lack of secure business continuity and/or disaster recovery plans. A recent Aunt Minnie article cited several compliance issues at mammography facilities over the last few months. One site permanently lost more than 20% of its mammograms, while another is attempting the expensive retrieval of more than 6,000 lost mammograms.

The FDA said that proper investment in PACS infrastructure including Cloud based archiving solutions could prevent the catastrophic loss of images. A Cloud PACS solution uses a vendor offsite to digitally store images that are automatically streamed into the Cloud. The vendor takes ownership of managing the security settings through an encryption technology and provides an automated storage and disaster recovery program.

4) The Baby Boomer Generation Will Have a Continued Impact on Healthcare

By 2030 there will be over 75 million Americans who are over the age of 65. Due to health advancements, this generation is living longer than its predecessors and with more chronic disease. This group is also highly subject to falls and various orthopedic injuries. Investments in technology can help with patient flow in hospitals and allow for greater flexibility among patients and doctors alike. Hospitals are even citing an interest among boomers in mobile health care, and patient portals have been one such advancement that enhances the workflow between doctors and patients.

If doctors and hospitals can provide individuals with health technology, education, and resources, they can become more capable of self-diagnosing, avoiding unnecessary ER and doctor visits, and seeking medical care and/or alert to their physicians when critical.

5) Security Remains a Key Concern

Cyber security will remain a key concern for both patients and providers in 2016. According to PwC, nearly 40% of customers said they would abandon or reconsider using a health organization if it were hacked.

When researching Cloud based solutions, it’s important to thoroughly examine the security features offered by your vendor. Questions you may want to ask include, Are you HIPAA compliant? Are their role based-permissions for users? Are their detailed audits and activity logs? How exactly is PHI kept secure?

For example, DICOM Grid uses a patented split-merge technology that anonymizes image studies by removing PHI from imaging data. The PHI is separately encrypted and stored producing an Internet-safe study.

What trends do you think we’ll see in healthcare in 2016?


Catherine Slotnick, Marketing Manager

About Catherine Slotnick

Catherine Slotnick is a passionate healthcare marketer with a deep interest in the latest & greatest in the Health IT space. As Ambra Health's Director of Marketing, Catherine primarily focuses on creating and sharing thought leadership content in the radiology and informatics space. Catherine graduated from the University of Virginia with a BA in Psychology & Art History. When she's not writing, she enjoys cooking and petting dogs that aren't hers.

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