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TAMPA, FL --(Marketwired - January 08, 2016) - Whether they were highlights or lowlights, healthcare stories dominated the news in 2015. The skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs, expanded medical coverage, the meltdown of blood-testing startup Theranos and the arrest of pharmaceutical industry entrepreneur Martin Shkreli, criticized for raising the price of life-saving drugs, were some of the stories that took center stage. Last year also saw a continuation of themes, including the (surprisingly quiet) transition to ICD-10, ongoing massive data hacks and the threat of cybersecurity, M&A activity, and the impact of consumerism on the industry.
With all this in mind, here are the top 3 predictions for the New Year:
1. Care within hand's reach
Healthcare consumerism, with its emphasis on customer service, is here to stay. Health-related smartphone apps have doubled in the last two years, from 16 percent of consumers in 2013 to 32 percent in 2015. From video consults and online scheduling to prescription refills with just a tap of the finger, patients and providers will continue to embrace technology that advances communication, convenience and cost.
As a result of this growing interest, practices can expect to see more patients turning to technologies, such as patient portals, for scheduling appointments, accessing medical records and communicating with providers. To meet patients' increased demand for digital conveniences and create an overall positive experience of care, more specialty practices will begin taking advantage of integrated solutions and leveraging tools -- such as e-eligibility, e-billing and e-remittance -- in order to help patients understand their financial responsibility early in the delivery of care as well as increase efficiency in billing and scheduling for practices.
2. Making better use of data
Providers are storing more data that can be used both within healthcare applications to treat patients and to perform research across populations, both of which improve outcomes. As they continue to build these bases of knowledge, they'll need innovative technologies that will allow them to easily analyze and share clinical information with other providers across the continuum, enabling them to close care gaps and improve care delivery. In addition, leveraging systems that offer a holistic integration of revenue cycle and clinical documentation ensures data integrity and data liquidity, providing specialty physicians with greater efficiency in the clinical and administrative areas of their practices.
3. More red tape
Last year, much of the industry was concerned with the transition to ICD-10. And while that massive undertaking is thankfully in the rear view mirror, 2016 definitely promises more regulatory red tape. Vendors will need to focus on getting ready for Meaningful Use Stage 3, which was delayed until 2017. Meanwhile, providers also will be turning to vendors for innovative solutions to manage PQRS reporting. With nearly a half million providers failing to meet the program's reporting requirements and feeling the lash of a 1.5 percent loss in reimbursement payments, providers should look for vendors who can align their meaningful use clinical quality measures with those of the PQRS program.