How is IT investment transforming healthcare industry?

eHealth

In today’s highly connected world, Information Technology (IT) is transforming the healthcare sector like any other verticals.

IT market research agency IDC believes IoT will become a big part of the next wave of technology in healthcare, and 3rd-Platform technologies such as cloud, Big Data, mobile, and social media will play a central role in this transformation.

Healthcare investment forecasts from research agencies underscore IDC’s observation. Technavio’s report says global healthcare IT spending is expected to grow at a CAGR of more than 7 percent from 2015-2019.

Gartner says healthcare providers in the Middle East and North Africa will spend $2.73 billion on IT products and services in 2015. This forecast includes spending by healthcare providers (which includes hospitals and physicians’ practices) on internal services, software, IT services, data center, devices and telecom services.

The research agency expects health care providers’ IT spending in India to increase 7 percent to $1.2 billion on IT products and services in 2015.

IDC says sensors, coupled with data analytics, cloud, and mobile technologies, provide an exciting opportunity to radically change the approach to disease diagnosis, treatment, and prevention, thus making proactive patient-centered healthcare a reality.

Mobile healthcare apps, wearable devices, remote health monitoring solutions are some of the trending IT contribution to the healthcare sector.

According to a report released by the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics in September, the number of mobile health applications available in the U.S. now surpasses 165,000, as developers incorporate innovative data collection features linked to sensors and wearables.

The IMS report also said nearly a quarter of consumer apps are now focused on disease and treatment management, while two-thirds target fitness and wellness. The number and variety of mHealth apps present an overwhelming set of options for consumers, resulting in 40 percent of apps having fewer than 5,000 downloads.

IT majors’ recent moves in the healthcare sector

Among major enterprise IT vendors, IBM offers IBM Watson Health Cloud, designed to bring together clinical, research and social data from a diverse range of health sources.  It is powered by the most advanced cognitive and analytic technologies.

In September, IBM Watson Health increased its capabilities by adding IBM Watson health cloud for Life Sciences Compliance and the IBM Watson Care Manager. The IBM Watson Health cloud for life sciences compliance intends to boost marketing of biomedical companies’ medical innovations.

IBM is partnered with Boston Children’s Hospital, Columbia University, ICON plc, Sage Bionetworks, Teva Pharmaceuticals, CVS Health, Medtronic and Yale University in leveraging Watson’s capabilities.

Indicating increasing acceptance of healthcare technologies worldwide, the Department of Health in England and NHS National Services Scotland approached Accenture to deploy cloud-based NHSmail service.

Under the five-year contract,  the IT outsourcing company will assist in offering secure communication to users of less secure systems such as non-NHS partners and patients. The IT services deal will benefit almost 700,000 health and care workers across the National Health Service (NHS) in England and Scotland.

Pharmaceutical companies are also in the race to digitalisation.  In October, South Korea’s LSK Global Pharma Services (LSK Global PS) has adopted cloud -based Oracle Health Sciences InForm to improve its clinical development processes.

Forecasts 

IDC forecasts the market value for personal wellness wearables to more than double by the end of 2018, expanding at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16.5 percent.

Transparency Market Research said the global telemedicine market will reach $36.3 billion by 2020 from $14.3 billion in 2014, growing at a CAGR of 14.30 percent from 2014 to 2020. The efforts of global telemedicine market players to tap into the unmet medical needs in remote places and the increasing patient pool in rural areas will help the proliferation of this market.

Challenges 

The numerous numbers of healthcare apps and other technologies also poses the risk of security as data is carried over the network.

“While much progress has been made over the past two years, mHealth apps are still far from being a fully integrated component of healthcare delivery,” said Murray Aitken, executive director of the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics.

Aitken added that healthcare providers are actively addressing the barriers, which include developing and adopting trusted platforms for ongoing apps curation and evaluation, creating practical reimbursement models and ensuring true interoperability within and across healthcare systems.

Accenture warns cyber attacks over the next five years will cost U.S. health systems $305 billion in cumulative lifetime revenue.

Many patients will suffer personal financial loss as a result of cyber attacks on medical information.

Accenture estimates that one in 13 patients – roughly 25 million people – will have personal information, such as social security or financial records, stolen from technology systems over the next five years.

“If healthcare providers are complacent to safeguarding personal information, they’ll risk losing substantial revenues and patients as a result of medical identity theft,” said Kaveh Safavi, managing director of Accenture’s global healthcare business.

Nearly 1.6 million people had their medical information stolen from healthcare providers last year, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights.

Arya MM

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