Predictions 2017: Envisioning the Healthcare Solutions of the Future

January 17, 2017

Health_imageOur country’s ever-evolving healthcare landscape makes the future very unpredictable.  Changes are occurring everywhere – regulation and legislation, reimbursement, technology, medical advances, and even the way healthcare is accessed and consumed. These changes impact how healthcare is delivered, paid for and administered. As such, it is imperative that Konica Minolta take an active role in understanding the industry and provide healthcare solutions in order to help our customers prepare for a future that will look very different than it does today. 

This requires conversations with customers in the field with our healthcare sales team and sales leadership, engagement with industry thought leaders such as our BIC Client Advisory Council members, consumption of the volumes of industry and market data and finally collaboration with healthcare SMEs across Konica Minolta.

So using all these valuable data sources as a jumping off point, allow me to provide my personal insight into some of the more prominent trends and challenges for the healthcare industry in 2017.

Outcomes-based reimbursement (MACRA/MIPS): Medicare Access and Reauthorization Act/Merit-Based Payment System (MACRA/MIPS) is a piece of legislation passed in 2015 that changes how physicians will be reimbursed for care beginning in 2019. In 2017, thresholds will be established against which physicians will be graded for reimbursement incentives or penalties.  Additionally, that data will be made publically available by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, thereby increasing transparency in the delivery of quality care. Beginning in 2017, and over the next couple of years, provider organizations (i.e., clinics, physicians, health systems, etc.) will be working hard to establish policies and practices that will enable them to execute against these new payment models.

Population Health:  Care is moving away from fee-for-service toward a quality – or outcomes-based – reimbursement model. This essentially reduces the importance on volume of care delivered and focuses instead on the quality of that care.  Managing the health of populations is critical as costs rise and demographics change.  Chronically ill patients consume a significant percentage of the care delivered in the U.S. (according to the Department of Health and Human Services, 5 percent of the population makes up 50 percent of the $3 trillion annual healthcare spend).  Therefore, data that is accumulated through electronic health record systems (EHR), claims, radiology systems, pharmacy benefit management systems, and even the unstructured data that falls under our domain, such as scanned patient documents, transcription reports, labs, etc., should be leveraged to better manage care, predict utilization, reduce hospital readmissions, and reduce the overall cost of care.  This requires greater interoperable IT systems, access to data, and the ability to easily use and interpret the tremendous amount of data that is being generated in today’s healthcare environment.  This topic will be of paramount importance in 2017 and beyond, and will drive innovation and competition in the healthcare IT technology sector.  To that point, the Konica Minolta BIC is reviewing how we may contribute toward this endeavor.

HIPAA/HITECH: HIPAA will continue to be critically important and CIOs, CISOs and CEOs are prioritizing it to minimize the potential for costly and damaging breaches of patient information.  Cybersecurity and ransomware have begun to emerge as unfortunate trends in the healthcare industry as nation states and cyber criminals are targeting this industry like never before.  HITECH/Meaningful Use also will remain relevant as hospitals and physicians continue to adopt and refine their use of EHRs as required by that legislation.  For Medicare Part B (physician services), the HITECH/Meaningful Use program will transition into one of the four core components of the MIPS program called Advancing Care Information when it is implemented in 2019, while Meaningful Use will still be important for hospitals and the Medicaid program– though likely to change over time. Konica Minolta’s HIPAA Consulting practice is positioned to assist our healthcare customers in their compliance efforts.

Cloud and Mobility:  Several years ago, the use of the cloud was looked at skeptically by the healthcare industry due to security concerns, system uptime, etc.  Now, with the maturity of the cloud and the explosion of mobility, healthcare is adopting this technology rapidly.  Most innovation and technology development centers around the use of cloud, mobile devices and the Internet of Things making solutions like EHRs, analytics engines, telehealth and all means of patient engagement tools virtually  ubiquitous.

Consumerism: People are looking for more convenient access to care and more transparency in cost.  Healthcare organizations will continue to open more retail-type clinics and partner with organizations like Walgreens, CVS and others to expand access to care and increase patient capture.  Also, more data is becoming available and will be expanded in the future for patients (consumers) to use to investigate their healthcare options (i.e., cost of procedures, exams, physician/hospital comparisons similar to Yelp, etc.), and as described earlier, legislation such as MIPS will also increase transparency.  This is essential as patients are starting to absorb a higher percentage of the financial responsibility of the healthcare services they consume.  It only makes sense that as personal financial responsibility rises, the demand for easier access and lower costs and the ability to make rational consumer decisions will become not only a growing trend, but an absolute necessity.

Interoperability: Most of the above is not possible without interoperable systems.  Healthcare will continue moving toward a more-patient-centered, outcomes-based model, increasing providers’ need to access the full patient story across the continuum of care (from primary care to specialist to hospital to post-acute care settings) in order to make better clinical decisions and rein in costs.  This requires the ability to easily and securely exchange data across disparate systems. Konica Minolta is addressing interoperability in a variety of ways.  First, from a “push” standpoint to act as an alternative to fax, Konica Minolta provides a direct messaging capability (secure, electronic document transmission) right from our multifunction product, using Kno2, a cloud-based direct messaging solution.  Second, using the Kno2 platform, Konica Minolta will be able to offer “pull” capability through query-based exchange, giving healthcare providers the ability to obtain patient information from their referral partners from the Kno2 cloud application.

Workplace of the Future and Robotics: The traditional workspace is facing extinction.  Businesses are embracing technology at a rapid pace, evolving from the typical office to spaces that adjust lighting, temperature and even privacy based on the presence of occupancy without human intervention, as well as remote engagement and telecommuting.  This trend has also found its way into healthcare, as technology such as robotics for surgery, office automation and security have started and will continue to emerge. Telehealth offers expanded access to care at lower costs, and leverages technology to align with the trend of consumerism, demonstrating the growing Workplace of the Future movement.  Healthcare will continue down this path as the industry endeavors to control costs, improve care and engage with an evolving and mobile patient population.

2017 will be a dynamic year in healthcare and for Konica Minolta.  Although the industry landscape will be volatile, and sometimes unpredictable, the many changes ultimately will contribute toward lower costs, enhanced individual experience of care and improved health for populations.  And the more we understand the trends and challenges that underlie those changes, the more capable we become as a trusted partner.

We will be exhibiting at the HIMSS (Health Information Systems Society) annual conference

Come visit us at HIMSS from February 19 to 23, 2017, at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL. You’ll find us at Booth #1071.

Joe Cisna, MBA, MHA
Director, Healthcare Solutions

Joe Cisna manages the healthcare strategy for Konica Minolta Business Solutions and has more than 18 years of healthcare provider and payer sales and marketing experience in electronic health records and medical cost containment services. He is responsible for supporting the Direct and Dealer Sales Channels with marketing, training and sales enablement tools and initiatives to drive healthcare solutions for our customers. Joe holds an MBA and a Masters’ in Healthcare Administration and is a Certified HIPAA Professional (CHP). He loves to run and play guitar, but not at the same time.