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● Think Tank

Visual acuity no match for creative ideation in high-tech world.

By Rick Dana Barlow F

orget about the fl ying cars already. Actor Avery Brooks expressed outrage in his characteris- tically poised but intense way about the lack of fl ying cars in the year 2000 as part of a television commercial promoting

IBM personal computers. Viewers no doubt laughed or smirked. Within fi ve years, IBM sold its PC business to Lenovo. Still no

fl ying cars. Perhaps Brooks continues to simmer today. Six years ago, the housing market collapsed, automotive manu-

facturers and banks deemed “too big to fail” by the federal govern- ment teetered and Wall Street tumbled as the nation plunged into an economic recession. T e fi rst-generation Apple iPhone seduced the smartphone set as the original iPad remained on the drawing board, Research In Mo- tion’s BlackBerry device retained loyalty among the business herd, and healthcare reform was a germinating idea just starting to manifest itself as part of the Obama Administration’s second-term destiny. Today, Samsung and Apple battle for supremacy in the smartphone and tablet computing market segments, each with a full and growing line of tools, healthcare reform offi cially debuted this month with electronic health/medical record adoption and implementation mark- ing slight gains as forward momentum head-butts clinician resistance. Six years from now in 2020, however, the United States will have a

new president in Washington and conceivably will be operating under some semblance of a reformed healthcare industry, most likely facing new pressures to improve eff ectiveness and effi ciency. En route, computing technology will continue to struggle with four major lingering issues: Power, information security, integration/ interfacing and end-user behavioral modifi cation, in reverse alphabeti- cal order, but not necessarily importance.

When natural disasters (e.g., hurricanes, superstorms and torna- dos) and man-made disasters (e.g., terrorist attacks) wipe out power lines and cellular towers and impede satellite broadcasts, healthcare organizations retreat to clipboards, sticky notes and ballpoint pens. Plus, short of access to an electrical power outlet, battery life on mobile devices remains more limited than an impatient consumer favors, often requiring daily charging, which leads to equipment downtime and hampered productivity. Despite the eff orts of HIPAA and HITECH, data hackers still manage to pierce through fi rewalls and seemingly impenetrable se- curity measures, whether online or via stolen hardware and software. Clinicians and healthcare administrators certainly can view an arsenal of technological advancements each year exhibited at the various IT, laboratory, oncologic, radiological and surgical conferences and trade shows they attend, but they may not be able to aff ord them or cost justify their immediate or short-term acquisition. T e underlying challenge is that even if they could fi nance these new tools, much of the gee-whiz-bang must-have/need-to-have tech they spot may not talk to the systems they already have in place or even plan to install. Finally, the fi rst three challenges alone only fuel the clinician and administrator reticence to change their behaviors unless forced by regulation or fi nancial penalty. Yet these four horsemen of the “e-pocolypse” aren’t blunting

8 January 2014

or dissuading tech development. Amid more powerful hand-held scanners, computing capabilities in smartphones, tablets, eyeglasses, wristwatches, injectable and ingestible implants and even electronic tattoos, data collection, storage and transmission will expand expo- nentially by the end of the decade. So what will computing in healthcare look like then? To kick off Health Management Technology’s fresh new perspective

this year, coinciding with the formal rollout of the Patient Protection and Aff ordable Care Act, HMT invited more than two dozen health- care technology company executives to gaze into their crystal ball, take a predictive time-travel trip and speculate on what they expect to see in play six years from now. Here’s what more than half forecast.

HMT: What are two signifi cant technological developments that you foresee being used in healthcare organizations in 2020, and will these technologies enhance or replace what exists today and why?

Gary Palgon, Vice President of Healthcare Solutions, Liaison Technologies Two developments we foresee will make a sig-


nifi cant impact on the healthcare industry in 2020 are the use of patient monitoring devices and predictive or


real-time modeling. Patient monitoring devices are already in high demand. We use

FitBit to track our activity and our sleep, and EKG Band-Aids to support heart monitoring. As we move into a world that is that much more connected, we’ll see many more innovative developments to track our health, from Internet-enabled toothbrushes that tell us who is brushing their teeth and how frequently, to whole house monitors that notify remote caregivers of a person who did not move from their bedroom to their bathroom by a certain time as typically expected, alerting that action may be required. As more data fl ows in faster intervals, it increases the need to in-

terpret and even predict such large quantities of data. Our capabilities are moving from “actuarial” to “actual,” ensuring that technologies give providers access to real-time information for improved decision- making and faster treatment plans. T ese technologies will enhance what exists today and also enable

newly innovated technologies to enhance the patient experience and improve overall patient care.

Ed Park, Executive Vice President and Chief

Operating Offi cer, athenahealth Healthcare organizations and patients are screaming for ways to enable better care at a lower cost. T e problem is that, although we’re living in the Internet Age, healthcare isn’t. Technology is going to be what helps get us where we need to be.


Eyeing tech development in 2020

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