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Healthcare IT Trends for 2023

Like many other industries, Information Technology (IT) has been steadily driving progress within the field of healthcare. The introduction of new software and other technologies has enabled healthcare providers to:

  • Expand and fine-tune treatment options.

  • Digitize records for accessibility.

  • Improve notetaking and data accuracy.

  • Safely expedite trial periods for drugs and other treatments.

  • Share vital information and insights more easily with other providers and experts.

With all these advancements—and even more on the horizon—technology has become central to the future of healthcare. This post will take a more in-depth look at the intersection of IT and healthcare, and how the two fields are working together to find new solutions in medicine.


TRENDS IN HEALTHCARE IT

As technology continues to evolve within the healthcare industry, here are a few trends to look out for in 2023.


TELEHEALTH

Telehealth was available prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, but it wasn’t quite as accessible as it is today. Nor was it so central to healthcare. But when the pandemic hit, medical providers ramped up their ability to support telehealth consultations and treatments.

Today, patients are relying on telehealth for common or low-risk medical concerns (like a sinus infection or the flu) at a decreasing rate. However, telehealth is still growing in popularity for treatment of chronic ailments. And because chronic and longitudinal care make up the larger part of healthcare treatment, this positions telehealth to be a continuing trend in healthcare IT.


One reason for its popularity is that telehealth allows patients to work with providers who would be otherwise inaccessible to them, whether due to travel costs or disability. But it’s also popular among providers as it connects them to a larger network of experts for collaboration.


Beyond physiological treatment, telehealth has become a major resource for psychological care. Virtual counseling and online therapy is set to grow by at least 14% through 2030 and is a major contributor to the telehealth trend.


ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE AND MACHINE LEARNING

Artificial intelligence (AI) isn’t going to replace healthcare providers, but there is a major trend in using AI to support evaluations, data analysis, patient engagement, and treatment planning.


So much so, that the FDA has authorized 520 submissions for AI and machine learning technology—with 269 of those being in 2022, and 115 in 2021.


These submissions weren’t restricted to hospitals or clinics though. AI and machine learning technology has become extremely popular at the consumer level, especially with health. With the invention of fitness gear like smart watches or rings, AI is being used to predict, alert, and improve consumer health through real-time tracking and long-term data analysis.


TRAINING AND TREATMENT TESTING SOFTWARE

From medical student to practicing surgeon, IT has opened new doors for training healthcare professionals and teaching new treatment methods. There are two options growing in popularity:


DIGITAL TWINS AND SIMULATIONS

Aptly named, digital twins refers to the process of digitally recreating certain organs or anatomies for training and treatment planning. Using real-world data, digital twins and simulations can be used to explore organ structure and drug effectiveness, without involving the patient.


So while they’re learning how a patient would respond to treatment options, they aren’t impacting the patient’s health until they’ve done substantial research and testing on the digital twin. This technology has also expedited design and trial periods for drugs and other treatment options—making successful options accessible to the public sooner.


EXTENDED REALITY

Extended reality (XR) is an umbrella term for virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and mixed reality (MR), and XR has become monumental for both treatment and training.


VR headsets allow doctors, surgeons, and nurses to become familiar with the human body without working on live patients. In some ways, this is a major upgrade from the traditional use of cadavers. Although cadavers give trainees the chance to practice on a real, physical example, VR can simulate how a live body would react in real time. It also allows them to simulate possible surgery complications and how to avoid or correct them.


VR is also useful in medical treatment, mainly in neurological or mental health, as it allows patients to try coping mechanisms. An example of this is treatment for children with autism, as they can safely practice coping with simulated environments.

AR is also highly useful in treatment and training. A prime example is the HoloLens system that allows surgeons to receive information in real-time and share their view with observing colleagues or trainees.


CYBERSECURITY

Some have considered IT to be a solution to a pressing crisis: staff shortages in healthcare. But the amassing integration of technology in healthcare has presented another issue: patient information security. According to IBM security, the average healthcare breach can cost up to $10.1 million, primarily due to system shutdowns.

And unfortunately, between 2016 and 2021, more than 42 million patients’ data was exposed. In response to this gap in security, many healthcare organizations are increasing their cybersecurity budgets—some up to 15%.


So, with increasing patient data tracking and use of online payment portals, emphasis on cybersecurity has become a top trend among healthcare facilities and organizations.

But patients don’t just have to worry about their data being leaked through healthcare providers. With the expansive list of apps and other consumer tech, their health-related info is constantly at risk. Along with consumer tech, the increase of telehealth and remote care means that medical devices are being used outside of healthcare facilities at a higher volume. Use of remote treatment devices means providers face cybersecurity threats even outside of their facilities.


With so much at stake, cybersecurity is set to be a major healthcare IT trend for the foreseeable future. In addition to hiring cybersecurity professionals, here are some steps being taken by healthcare facilities and organizations:

  • Encryption for healthcare data at rest and in transit

  • Two-factor login authentication for accessing private data

  • Data recovery systems and other backup mechanics

  • Use of third-party partners that specialize in defense against healthcare specific cyber-attacks

  • Additional cybersecurity training among healthcare professionals

  • Use of Zero Trust principles


HEALTHCARE NEEDS IT PROFESSIONALS

As the healthcare industry continues to embrace and rely on IT, new and innovative tech-based solutions will continue to emerge. And to advance this vision for the future of healthcare, IT experts are desperately needed.

From AI to software design, to cybersecurity and more, the healthcare industry has positioned itself as an exciting opportunity for professionals in IT.






Healthcare IT Trends for 2023 | Insight Global

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