This week we spoke with David Williams, principal of MedPharma Partners LLC and editor of Health Business Blog. David is one of the leading experts on trends and developments in healthcare and technology. Until now, he has been the one asking the questions. His blog regularly features podcast interviews with industry executives, including NaviNet’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. S. Michael Ross M.D., MHA and VP of Business Development Scott Rybak. We’re thrilled he switched roles this time so we could learn more about David’s insights on mobile health and accountable care organizations (ACOs).
What do you predict as the biggest developments in Health IT for 2012?
Doctors and nurses will begin to rely heavily on mobile devices and apps in the clinical workflow. I also think hospitals will figure out how to incorporate personal devices into the workplace. The data clearly calls for this. According to Manhattan Research, 72% of US physicians are already using smartphones, and that percentage is expected to rise to 81% by the end of 2012. CompTIA report confirms this trend too: 38% of physicians with smartphones use medical apps on a daily basis. This number is projected to jump to 50% in the next 12 months.
What developments do you foresee in coordinated care in 2012?
As patient centered medical homes become mainstream, more specialists will figure out how to attach themselves to form a "medical neighborhood." Medical neighborhoods are created when specialists align with medical homes to provide care.
What will the role of health plans be in setting technology solution standards in ACO development?
Providers will realize that when it comes to ACO formation, they can't do it alone. They need the data, analytics capability, process discipline, and capital reserves that health plans can offer.
What HIT success stories are your favorite examples of improving care and reducing costs in 2011?
My favorite examples reflect the emergence of the iPad as a tool for doctors and nurses to provide patient education. There’s a growing collection of apps from companies like OrcaMD, which provide information, visuals, and insights on anatomy, injuries, and common treatments so patients can learn about their conditions. For example, physicians and physical therapists have benefited from using apps such as Shoulder Decide, Knee Decide, and Spine Decide to discuss injuries with their patients.
What are the big HIT-related and healthcare changes that physicians should prepare for in 2012?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released results from its annual survey on Electronic Health Record (EHR) adoption. According to that report, 56.9% of physicians in ambulatory practices are now using an EHR. More than one half of those surveyed intend to apply for meaningful use incentives, another indication that EHR adoption will continue to grow. Beyond that, physicians will need to optimize their use of electronic health records and health information to harness these tools for real productivity improvements, not just better accuracy and record keeping. Physicians also will need to find repeatable, scalable ways to use these tools to exchange data more easily with other providers, health plans, and patients.
Which healthcare and technology leaders will drive improvement in care delivery and reduce healthcare costs in 2012?
I expect that Walmart will become a healthcare leader…maybe not next year, but certainly by 2014. The company announced its intention to be the largest provider of primary care in the nation. With 140 retail clinics already in place, Walmart plans to provide low-cost, nonemergent care services for consumers seeking treatment for common conditions. These retail clinics also will be key in providing care for the aging population because they are convenient distribution points for medications and routine health maintenance like blood pressure checks.
You've written a few posts recently about Medicare on your blog. What initiatives and technologies can help to reduce Medicare costs? How can technology help to address the needs of elderly patients?
The elderly will use technology if it's presented to them in simple, useful format. The same types of patient education, social networks, and online portals that are targeted to the general population are applicable to this cohort, too. I'd also like to see Medicare introduce more of a consumer-directed approach that makes beneficiaries more sensitive to costs.
If you could feature a podcast interview of anyone (healthcare-related, of course) on your blog in 2012, who would it be and why?
Lyndon Johnson. The Great Society programs, including Medicare, were enacted by the Johnson administration to eliminate poverty and racial injustice. It would be great to get Lyndon Johnson’s perspective on where we are with Medicare today.
Thank you again, David, for sharing your predictions for 2012. We want to hear from the community. What do you think will have the strongest impact on healthcare next year? How do we ensure that we are prepared for these changes? Join the discussion on our blog, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Check out what other HealthIT experts, including John Lynn and John Moore have to say about what to expect in HIT in 2012.
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