Here are five significant trends healthcare CIOs should pay attention to in 2014, partly because of their bearing on the main events.
Patient portals, Direct messaging, medical identity theft, cloud storage, and mobile devices will keep healthcare execs busy.
1. Patient portals
Because of rising consumer interest in health IT, the industry transition to accountable care, and most of all, Meaningful Use Stage 2, patient portals are hot. Nearly 50% of hospitals and 40% of ambulatory practices already provide patient portals, according to a Frost & Sullivan report. The firm predicted that the value of the portal business would soar to nearly $900 million in 2017, up 221% from its worth in 2012.
2. Direct messaging
In the past few years, the Direct Project protocol for secure clinical messaging has steadily gained momentum. EHRs must include Direct capability to receive 2014 certification, and Direct messaging is also one way to satisfy the Meaningful Use Stage 2 requirement that providers exchange care summaries electronically at transitions of care. Some health information exchanges are using Direct to communicate with physicians who don't have EHRs. Eventually, Direct messages could replace faxes.
3. Cyberattacks and medical identity theft
Over the past few years, there has been a quantum leap in the number of cyberattacks on healthcare organizations. The Ponemon Institute, which tracks computer security in a number of industries, says healthcare is increasingly attractive to cyber-criminals because the information required to steal a medical identity is worth far more on the street than Social Security numbers or credit card numbers alone. As a result, Ponemon reported, the number of medical identity theft victims in the US soared from 1.42 million in 2010 to 1.85 million in 2012.
4. Cloud storage and cloud-based EHRs
Security concerns were the biggest reason CIOs and other healthcare leaders said they were reluctant to use cloud storage in an HIMSS Analytics focus group. Some participants said they'd be comfortable using a private cloud hosted by their software vendor. Others said the cloud was fine for business-related information, but that they wouldn't trust it for storing personal health information.
5. Mobile devices
BYOD is a major concern for CIOs, as is insecure texting between clinicians, and those issues will continue. But 2014 could be the year when physicians start prescribing mobile health apps to patients. If there's a major increase in the use of these apps by patients with chronic diseases, monitoring data from patients' mobile devices might also start flowing into hospitals and practices.