Hospitals to invest in information sharing, lab technology

Hospitals are devoting more money toward technology designed to streamline laboratory procedures and preemptively verify reimbursement, while also focusing on privately run data-sharing systems to manage health information.

In the aftermath of industry-wide EHR implementation, hospitals are preparing to install technology that provides more support for clinicians and advances health data utilization, according to HealthcareITNews. Representatives with HIMSS Analytics parsed out the top 27 health technologies with the largest growth potential in 2017. Here are the top four:

  • Laboratory systems: Hospitals are investing in systems including transfusion and specimen management systems aimed at streamlining processes. Having already implemented barcode-based inventory systems, they're now using that same approach to manage lab samples. Molecular diagnostic tools and laboratory outreach systems designed to ensure patients are receiving the appropriate tests have a smaller market share but add to the overall investment in laboratory technology, as FierceHealthIT has reported.

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  • Health information exchanges: Hospitals have already indicated a willingness to shift away from public health information exchanges (HIE) to privately run systems. With 496 predicted installs in the coming year, hospitals and health systems are seeking tailored solutions that allow them to share patient information with other organizations without compromising security, according to the article. Over the last several years, the number of public HIEs has dropped after facing stronger competition from enterprise models.  

RELATED: Declining number of public HIEs raises concerns about interoperability

  • Medical necessity verification: In the past, medical necessity has been the primary reason for payment denials and a potential target for federal fraud investigators. Hospitals are taking a more proactive approach to medical necessity reviews by employing systems to verify that the provider will be paid for a procedure before performing it.
  • Nurse communication systems: Studies show that better communication among nurses—often viewed as the most impactful member of the clinical team—leads to fewer medical errors. From a financial perspective, miscommunication can lead to as much as $1.7 billion in additional costs, which typically fall on the hospital. With 420 predicted installs in 2017, hospitals are looking for new solutions to improve communication among its most valuable clinical members.

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Hospitals continue to put money toward data security in the form of encryption software, firewalls and spam and spyware filters, particularly as providers seek to improve data sharing capabilities. Given the high cost of healthcare-acquired infections, and the mounting pressure from federal regulators in the form of value-based payments, hospitals are also poised to invest more in infection surveillance systems.