Friday, October 28, 2011

Health Information Technology - A Description of the Sector Landscape

The Health Information Technology Sector has many components. We are looking specifically at EMRs, Informatics, Analytics and Devices. By analyzing the current state and trends, we can predict what each of these pieces of the Health IT will look like five years down the road.


In the past, health data that is collected during care was recorded on paper. EMRs offer immense opportunities to improve patient care at the point of delivery by using this data and changing typical workflow. Adoption, however, has been slow because of barriers including cost, lack of expertise or technical knowledge and problems with interoperability.

With recent legislation, however, there is a major shift with financial incentives for healthcare organization that are able to attain “Meaningful Use”. There has also been a trend to address complicated reimbursement issues using data entered into the EMR. Many EMR companies have also, in an effort to improve efficiency in healthcare delivery, are offering mobile services.

In the next five years, we will see significantly better adoption of EMRs. EMR companies will compete on how their product address associated issues such as efficiency and reimbursement. In addition, EMR companies will begin using cloud services. Patient data will have the capability of be entered on mobile device, either by the patient or a provider. The reimbursement cycle will be sped up as hospitals have more information and use that as power over insurance companies.


Clinical data includes data collected throughout the drug development lifecycle, starting with the R&D. This includes data about clinical trial management, pharmacovigilance both before and after drug launch and data in the hospital information systems. Historically, this data has been in paper form. Paper-based data collection has multiple pitfalls including the fact that it is extremely hard to correlate and make sense of data. There are also challenges for the FDA in terms of validating data and finalizing approvals.

One of the major shifts in the digital era has been the electronic information systems. Data today is collected from multiple sources and stored in data bases across the world. There are enough infrastructures, not just to store the humongous amount of data, but also to normalize the data and gain insights. With redundant systems making this data fail-safe, cloud infrastructures have enabled real-time access to data by all stake holders.

While aggregating and normalizing data from conventional sources including biopharma, CROs, providers and insurers pose challenges currently, the future could be defined in terms of a shift in patient control of data. Given the sensitivity of the data, it is only fair that the patient has enough control on both access of the data and data entry itself. For example, in order to minimize human intervention, chip implants in humans (which is already history) could gain more momentum in terms of personal health data governance and monitoring.


Currently analytics are used to realize cost savings for medical payers. Predictive models are implemented by insurance providers to identify fraud and to estimate future costs for more accurate planning and risk reductions. The digitization of historical, present and future medical data is creating the availability of “Big Data.” Less than 20% of medical delivery practices are currently able to conduct clinical decision support.

In the next 5 years analytics will be a capability to enable clinical decision support to reduce medical costs associated with time, errors, and inventory. Cloud computing, mobile technologies and government regulation imply more data will be available and accessible anytime anywhere. These trends suggest that analytics may enable personal preventative health opportunities.


Overall, the industry will gain momentum in the next five years. Incentives for greater EMR adoption through the Affordable Care Act will spur adoption. Use of technology to increase privacy will improve informatics. Analytics will be used to drive decision-making, which has largely not been done in healthcare. All of these forces together will increase the influence of the healthcare information technology sector.

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