Top Ten Health IT Trends for 2016

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By Tony Schueth, Editor-in-Chief

If 2015 was any indicator, 2016 will continue to be a year of innovation and change in health care and health information technology (health IT). Here are the top 10 trends the Point-of-Care Partners (POCP) team foresee for 2016.

[tweetthis display_mode=”box”]Top Ten #HealthIT Trends for 2016.[/tweetthis]

  • Alternative delivery and payment models. Health IT — particularly electronic health records (EHRs) — will play larger roles in alternative payment in delivery models, such as accountable care organizations (ACOs). EHRs will be essential to help capture and exchange patient and administrative information, prescribe medications, coordinate care and create and report on quality and payment metrics. The latter will be the criteria on which organizations are paid and how they share resulting savings. This means ACOs and others will continue to integrate system-wide technology solutions as new providers are added to their networks. This will require more EHR interoperability, better information exchange across sites of care and increased user training.

[tweetthis]In 2016, Health IT — particularly #EHRs — will play larger roles in alternative payment in delivery models.[/tweetthis]

  • Biosimilars. More biosimilars will be introduced into the US health care market in 2016, driven by the lower price tag for these expensive pharmaceuticals. EHRs will take on new and expanded roles in coordinating patient care using biologics and biosimilars. Vendors will see Interest in building biosimilars into EHR clinical decision support and adding functionality in physician EHRs to track and trace batch and lot numbers of those pharmaceuticals—essential because physicians are the major reporters of adverse drug events. At the same time, EHRs and pharmacy systems will need to keep abreast of rapidly evolving state laws concerning biologic and biosimilar substitution.

[tweetthis]In 2016 – #EHR vendors will see Interest in functionality to track and trace batch and lot numbers for biosimilars.[/tweetthis]

  • Electronic prescribing of controlled substances (EPCS). EPCS will continue to grow steadily and more states will adopt mandates, such as in New York and Minnesota. But there’s a twist. Electronic prescribing for all drugs is required in New York, which has noncompliance penalties. Minnesota has a similar mandate but no consequences for nonuse. Will such “toothless” legislation have an impact? Yes, if ePrescribing of noncontrolled substances is any indication because Minnesota has led the nation in the past couple years. But there’s more. Physicians will need to use EPCS to meet ePrescribing, cost and quality targets set by public and private payers. Increased adoption shouldn’t be a problem. Because many of the bigger barriers no longer exist, physicians simply need to get past using two factor authentication and just do it.

[tweetthis]In 2016, #physicians will need to use #EPCS to meet #ePrescribing cost and quality targets.[/tweetthis]

  • Electronic prior authorization (ePA). Vendors in 2016 will expand implementation of ePA and prescribers will increase adoption as efforts started in previous years begin to bear fruit. Legislation that had 2015 deadlines pushed payers and providers to consider various alternatives. In the short term, stakeholders opted for portals and solutions not integrated with work-flow or core operating systems, allowing each to “check the box.” However, such solutions are suboptimal. Building more integrated solutions, however, takes investments of time and resources, which must be budgeted and prioritized.

[tweetthis]In 2016, #prescribers will increase adoption of #ePriorAuth as efforts started in previous years begin to bear fruit.[/tweetthis]

  • Implementation of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA). MACRA imposes new requirements on physicians and EHR vendors. Among other things, MACRA rolls up the disparate quality reporting systems of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)—as well as meaningful use–into the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS). This single program will guide physician payments according to quality, resource use, clinical practice improvement and use of certified EHR technology.

[tweetthis]In 2016, MACRA will guide #physician payments.[/tweetthis]

  • The “death” of meaningful use. A major topic of discussion in 2016 will be the “death” of MU as a federal program and driver of EHR adoption and functionality. In January, CMS’ Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt announced the end of MU as we know it. However, MU is not dead, as some thought (or wished). Rather, it is being integrated as a component of MIPS, along with other elements. Requirements, timelines, incentives and possible noncompliance penalties will start rolling out in 2016, capturing everyone’s attention. (For more about POCP’s thoughts on what will happen, see the article in POCP’s February HIT Perspectives.)

[tweetthis]#MeaningfulUse #MU is not dead, as some thought (or wished).[/tweetthis]

  • Medication adherence. Greater attention will be focused on medication adherence, which is estimated at $100 to $300 billion annually. Moreover, half of the 3.2 billion prescriptions dispensed annually are not taken as prescribed.  That’s why pharmaceutical companies, payers and others will be interested in how ePrescribing can be leveraged to increase medication adherence to reduce costs and improve the quality and safety of patient care. In fact, ePrescribing’s ability to improve patient compliance with drug regimens has long been discussed as a major potential benefit.

[tweetthis]Half of the 3.2 billion U.S. #prescriptions dispensed annually are not taken as prescribed. [/tweetthis]

  • Continued automation of specialty medications. Specialty medications represent the fastest-growing cost in US health care. Specialty drug spend is expected to jump two-thirds in 2015 and account for half of all drug costs by 2018. As a result, we’ll see renewed interest in better automating specialty prescribing to cut costs and improve workflows. So far, specialty prescribing is ripe for process improvement and has spotty, partitioned computerization. Look for NCPDP to continue to address data elements that are critical to the safe, appropriate and timely ePrescribing of specialty medications.

[tweetthis]#Specialtydrug spend is expected to account for half of all drug costs by 2018.[/tweetthis]

[tweetthis]In 2016, @NCPDP will continue to address data elements that are critical to #ePrescribing of specialty medications. [/tweetthis]

  • Telemedicine. Telemedicine is here to stay. It’s covered by insurance in more than two dozen states and Washington, DC, while Medicare, Medicaid and the Department of Defense have expanded their coverage. In response to consumer demand, retail medical clinics and employers with on-site medical facilities also are looking to offer telemedicine services in 2016. Now health IT vendors will need to provide more and better interoperable systems to capture and exchange patient data related to telemedicine visits — within and across sites of care and payers.

[tweetthis]#Telemedicine is here to stay.[/tweetthis]

  • War on drug abuse. Drug overdose is the nation’s leading cause of accidental death, with overdoses from prescription pain relievers and heroin leading the way. Stemming this tide will be a priority in 2016. It will result in more state laws like New York’s I-STOP (Internet System for Tracking Over-Prescribing), which requires ePrescribing of all medications and consultation by most prescribers of the state’s prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP) registry when writing prescriptions for Schedule II, III and IV controlled substances. We expect other states to follow New York’s lead. EHR developers will need to ensure their products contain features enabling their physician customers to be in compliance with state requirements for PDMP consultation and EPCS. EHRs also will need to comport with emerging federal efforts to expand PDMP interoperability.

[tweetthis]#EHRs will need to comport with emerging federal efforts to expand #PDMP interoperability. [/tweetthis]


Tony Schueth

Tony Schueth

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