Without question, the health care sector has become far more dependent on IT in the past few years than ever before. The rise of electronic health records (EHRs), mobile solutions, cloud computing and other technologies have all radically changed the health care landscape. And more IT-driven changes are on the horizon.

That’s the main takeaway from IDC’s recent FutureScape: Worldwide Healthcare 2016 Predictions. As Health Care IT News contributor Karin Ratchinsky noted, this forecast actually extends well beyond 2016 and suggests that IT will remain the biggest factor in the health care sector’s continuing evolution, playing an ever-increasing role in the coming years.

IT Danger
The IDC report identified a number of key areas where IT is likely to exert a major impact on the health care sector.

“One out of every three individuals will have their health care records compromised in 2016.”

One of the most noteworthy of these predictions is the increased cybersecurity risk posed by the ongoing adoption of EHRs. IDC predicted that one out of every three individuals will have their health care records exposed, stolen or otherwise compromised in 2016, Ratchinsky reported. Obviously, this presents a major threat for patients and care providers alike.

In recent months and years, countless organizations in this sector have experienced data breaches, each of which carries very serious consequences. A recent report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights determined that health care providers that had suffered a data breach in 2014 could be expected to miss out on $113 million each on average from lost lifetime patient revenue. For the industry as a whole, these types of missed revenue opportunities resulting from data breaches in the next five years will total more than $300 billion, Accenture reported. This report also noted that research from the Ponemon Institute found that approximately two-thirds of those individuals who become the victims of medical records-based identity theft will ultimately face out-of-pocket costs of upward of $13,000.

Positive IT Impact
However, the IDC report is certainly not all bad news when it comes to the growing influence of IT in the health care sector. On the contrary, many of the forecasts highlight how new technologies are leading to superior experiences for patients.

For example, IDC predicted that four-fifths of patient service interaction will utilize the Internet of Things (IoT) and big data by 2018, at which point virtual care will be seen as routine, Ratchinsky reported. This will lead to high-quality interactions and service while delivering better value and quicker response times.

Big data and the IoT will improve patient care.
Big data and the IoT will improve patient care.

The IDC report also found that 30 percent of worldwide health care systems will use real-time cognitive analytics as a means of offering personalized care, the writer noted. These analytics, based upon patient clinical data, will be supported directly through clinical outcomes and real-world evidence (RWE).

Somewhat similarly, IDC believes that physicians will turn to cognitive solutions for about half of their most complex cancer cases by 2018. According to Ratchinsky, IDC suggested this will lead to a 10 percent decrease in both mortality rates and costs.

Preparing for IT
In regard to both the positive and negative aspects of IT’s growing influence in the health care sector, organizations will face pressure to act immediately by improving and expanding their health IT capabilities. Without IT expertise, hospitals and other care providers will struggle to take advantage of these opportunities and to keep their data safe in an increasingly dangerous digital environment. Considering the shortage of available healthcare IT talent available today, this may pose a serious challenge. However, partnering with the right third-party IT staffing provider will enable organizations to remain leaders in the IT realm.