5 Healthcare IT Trends Entrepreneurs Should Watch in 2022 Those who plan to capitalize on unprecedented levels of investor interest in the healthcare tech space must first be aware of significant market shifts and new IT methods of managing both care and administrative tasks.
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The pandemic has catalyzed significant changes in the healthcare industry, particularly on the technology front as patients, payers and providers look for ever-newer ways of delivering, receiving and being reimbursed for care. These have created new opportunities for business leaders committed to delivering innovative solutions, and, of course, entrepreneurs with the best ideas are positioned to most readily obtain funding.
According to Deloitte, venture funding for healthcare tech doubled year-over-year in 2020 and further accelerated during 2021 with record levels of investment through special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs), private equity, venture capital and debt financing.
A closer look at five healthcare IT trends to watch:
1. Movement to the cloud continues
The healthcare industry has been transitioning to cloud-based tools for some time now, but adoption has generally lagged among smaller/independent groups. Over the last two years, the need to quickly access information and deliver virtual care to patients has further accelerated this move to the cloud, especially among smaller independent groups, and this will continue in 2022.
2. Physicians, patients and payers will further embrace virtual care
Before 2020, telemedicine adoption rates were low. While less than 1% of patient appointments were conducted virtually in 2019, telehealth use has increased by a factor of 38 from the beginning of 2020 to February of 2021, according to McKinsey & Company — a sea change in care delivery, and at a speed virtually unheard of in the healthcare space. Over the last two years, many have transitioned from experiencing their very first virtual healthcare encounter to expecting this new convenience from any provider they select. In addition to patient sentiment, increased acceptance by insurance companies and a reduction of regulatory hurdles have rapidly increased physician adoption of telemedicine. Look for virtual care to continue to make inroads in the months and years ahead.
3. Tech that enables remote patient monitoring and management will gain wider acceptance
Similar to the trajectory of telemedicine, technologies that enable remote monitoring of patient health and chronic care management are quickly gaining broader acceptance, including devices that capture real-time data regarding blood pressure, weight, oxygen levels, activity and other vitals — collectively driving efficiencies and better care. New vendors and devices are entering the market daily, and we'll likely see an expansion of current use cases in 2022. Such trailblazing technologies — ones that increasingly secure health insurance reimbursement — create a path for other innovations and will continue to multiply exponentially so long as they drive better health outcomes and are reimbursed by commercial and governmental payers.
4. More opportunities for virtual and augmented reality tools
Today, virtual and augmented reality tools are used primarily for tasks like physician training and enabling complex procedures and surgeries in remote areas. They are also used in behavioral health, as well as in physical and occupational therapy, but there's an emerging opportunity to apply them more broadly. Keep watch regarding how virtual and augmented reality will integrate into telemedicine and other care delivery methods in the new year and beyond. Businesses that can demonstrate proof of concept, while complying with privacy regulations and insurance requirements, will be in a leading position, particularly as the metaverse expands.
5. Implementing automation and AI will become a higher priority
Machine learning, artificial intelligence and other automation systems are already used widely in some specialties. For example, internal medicine practices commonly use AI embedded with electronic health records to screen test results for outliers, and many practices leverage data-driven clinical decision support. In this year and beyond, providers will take things to the next level — use these technologies to provide clinical insights that further improve outcomes and automate mundane tasks. These hold vast potential for streamlining back-office operations like claims reviews, as well as associated tasks like retrieving and delivering data to insurance companies to support claim adjudication. Look for broader use of automation to handle these sorts of tasks from beginning to end, eliminating manual data entry and freeing staff for higher-level work. It will also help medical organizations deal with a tight labor market.