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Top Health IT predictions for 2021

by Chilmark Team | February 02, 2021

AI-generated transcript follows:

John Moore III: [00:00:00] Hi again, welcome back to Chilmark Research. My name is John Moore and I’m a vice president here. This week we sat down with the team to hear a couple of their highlighted predictions for what they expect to be happening in 2021. This is something that we do annually and we try to kind of look at our crystal ball to see how the trends are going to shape what happens in the year ahead for the industry. We have a baker’s dozen of these predictions sitting on our website, so if you go and check out our posts, you can view the full list there. But today we’ll be discussing what each one of the analysts thinks is kind of most likely to happen and have the most impact on the industry. So enjoy. But before we jump into things, please be sure to subscribe to our channel and hit the bell button to receive notifications whenever we release new content. And if you like what you see here today, be sure to click that like button. And if you want to engage with us, please leave a comment and someone will respond.

John Moore: [00:00:56] Hello, everyone, my name is John Moore, I am the founder of Chilmark Research.

I believe what we’ll be seeing in 2021 is a greater acceleration and focus on the acquisition of ambulatory assets versus what we’ve seen in the recent past, which has been more of a focus on the acquisition of hospital systems and hospitals themselves.

John Moore, Founder

Brian Murphy: [00:01:00] Hi I’m Brian Murphy and I’ve been doing our interoperability research here at Chilmark Research for a number of years.

Jody Ranck: [00:01:06] I am Jody Ranck. I’ve been covering the data analytics and social determinants of health spaces for the last three to four years, off and on for Chilmark Research.

Alex Lennox-Miller: [00:01:14] My name is Alex Lennox Miller. I’m a senior analyst with Chilmark Research and I’m here to talk about my predictions for 2021 in health care IT.

John Moore: [00:01:22] One of the big predictions that I had or what framed my predictions in that 2021 post that we did was kind of the long term impact of the pandemic on the health care sector, which I believe will be significant and be felt for many years to come. Primary among them is what has happened with regards to the financial stresses, particularly in the ambulatory sector, that has led to a number of practices simply closing and countless others being under extreme financial duress. This has created an opportunity for others to potentially buy these ambulatory practices. So I believe what we’ll be seeing in 2021 is a greater acceleration and focus on the acquisition of ambulatory assets versus what we’ve seen in the recent past, which has been more of a focus on the acquisition of hospital systems and hospitals themselves. With that in mind, one of the foreseen factors as well that one has to keep in mind is seems his recent rule that seventeen hundred over formerly acute procedures can now be site neutral and be performed in the ambulatory sector. Thus, one would think that hospital systems would be very interested in acquiring ambulatory practices and surgical centers to keep that revenue stream coming from the seventeen hundred procedures. However, the financial situation of those health systems is also under duress and I’m not sure they have enough dry powder to make many acquisitions in the ambulatory sector.

John Moore: [00:03:11] On top of that, they’re going to be competing with private equity firms as well as commercial payers and payers from the blues that are also looking to acquire these assets to create more vertically integrated offerings for the employer market and others. So it’ll be a highly competitive market for those ambulatory practices that have demonstrated the ability to provide good quality care at a good price and basically have their operations together.

Brian Murphy: [00:03:46] Our most interesting prediction for 2021 is that 2021 will not be the year of the patient app. Despite ONC’s tremendous efforts over the last several years and putting together those requirements and those APIs with their various industry partners, patient engagement is still a problem. Instead, the real opportunity has to do with rehabilitating the application portfolios that we see everywhere in health care. Organizations are definitely going to begin thinking much more deeply about the opportunities that apps like these present for new and different kinds of development projects.

My prediction was about acceleration in mergers and acquisitions in the virtual care space…The biggest thing that we’re going to see is an increased interest in behavioral health functions. Behavioral health is essential in long term care and chronic care, and it’s incredibly difficult for a lot of health systems to provide at a high level.

Alex Lennox-Miller, Senior Analyst

Jody Ranck: [00:04:27] So my first prediction for 2021 has to do with A.I. and drug development and drug discovery. As we all know, the pandemic has created an urgent need to find therapeutic molecules much faster that can address the covid-19 pandemic. And so we’ve seen a number of different A.I. based startups, such as Benevolent A.I. that have used their partnerships and access to drug discovery and development data to try to find the molecules with the best promise of being translated into therapeutic agents in the near future. And we’ve also seen Google’s deep mine make a major breakthrough in protein folding. And another interesting startup that I’ve paid some attention to is Immune A.I. that has kind of bridged immunology in A.I. in some very interesting ways that could be relevant for even cancer care. And I think this this year could show some interesting developments in this space.

Alex Lennox-Miller: [00:05:34] My prediction was about acceleration in mergers and acquisitions in the virtual care space. We’ve seen that happening over the years. We saw it really take off in 2020 and it’s only going to get faster in 2021 as companies like Teladoc, who have historically performed maybe one major acquisition per year, are probably going to increase that number in the next year.

Alex Lennox-Miller: [00:05:59] Companies like Amwell, they announced major partnerships in 2020 are going to continue to develop that, especially with money that they’ve raised from their IPO. Smaller vendors who now need to compete with these larger integrated platforms are going to start merging and trying to combine their offerings. The biggest thing that we’re going to see is an increased interest in behavioral health functions. Behavioral health is essential in long term care and chronic care, and it’s incredibly difficult for a lot of health systems to provide at a high level.

Alex Lennox-Miller: [00:06:33] Right now, offerings that have a really good behavioral health component are going to be incredibly valuable in 2021, I think, looking ahead.

John Moore: [00:06:46] But one of the things one has to take into account as we move forward is also, you know, with regards to this financial stress on the hospital system, is the increased interest in value based care models, those practices that had some revenue coming in via ACA capitated Medicaid model, or coming in to some value based care programs that they may have had with payers dollar Medicare Advantage have fared better than those that were strictly living on a fee for service model. Therefore, I think in 2020 one you’ll be seeing increasing interest on value based care and also the IT solutions to help providers and both big and small migrate into a value based care contract successfully. That is one of the key areas we’ll be watching in 2021.

John Moore: [00:07:46] Another prediction have for 2021 is that we’ll see more rapid adoption of digital health tools across the pharmaceutical sector with the lockdowns. That makes it difficult to conduct clinical trials with having the need to have patients show up in clinics to have blood drawn and so forth and to monitor whatever condition or drug it is being tested. So digital health tools that allow the pharmaceutical companies to monitor patients enrolled in clinical trials remotely are going to help accelerate the adoption of digital health and across the pharmaceutical industry.

John Moore: [00:08:27] Another area that we’ll be watching very closely in our research and reporting on is the new venues of care delivery or analysts. Alex Lennox Miller has been following the distributed, what we call distributed health care, quite closely. And we’ll be producing a virtual care report in the first quarter.

[The lockdowns] make it difficult to conduct clinical trials traditionally in-person, so digital health tools that allow the pharmaceutical companies to monitor patients enrolled in clinical trials remotely are going to help accelerate the adoption of digital health and across the pharmaceutical industry.

John Moore, Founder

John Moore: [00:08:49] Looking at some of the virtual care solutions out there in the market and how they’re evolving to serve the market, virtual care really occupies most of my time this year, virtual care experienced insane growth in 2020 and we don’t expect that to slow down. These offerings are really essential. The most important thing to recognize, though, is that virtual care goes far beyond just telehealth.

Alex Lennox-Miller: [00:09:17] In 2021, we’re going to be looking at remote monitoring. We’re going to be looking at asynchronous offerings. We’re going to be looking at offerings that really integrate a number of different functionalities for long term care, for longitudinal health and for chronic care. The biggest thing that we are looking at is what we’re calling distributed health care. It’s a recognition that these tools offer really incredible opportunities for providers and for patients. But that really great health care has to include not just virtual care tools, not just synchronous telehealth, not just asynchronous tools, but in-person care when it’s essential and when it’s most important.

John Moore: [00:10:04] I also think we have to look beyond just the virtual care, but also companies such as One Medical, Oak Street Health, Village M.D. and its partnership with Walgreens, Walmart, CVS, these are all they’re all creating new avenues of care for primary care, particularly that consumers can go to versus going to their typical primary doc, I think this is creates an ability for greater access and maybe more equitable access to care across this nation of ours. But I think it also introduces the possibility that it’s going to create a much more difficult environment. And ability for organizations to put together what is truly a longitudinal patient record of their care when a patient may be going to multiple different venues to receive such care. How do we bring that together? Remains to be seen. Certainly the agency is doing a lot of work around interoperability and open APIs and with the Cures Act.

John Moore: [00:11:20] But we’ll have to wait and see if that is enough to allow providers to be able to pull together that longitudinal patient record for a patient, regardless of where they may get their care at telehealth appointment with Teladoc or going to Walgreens to a Village M.D. or going to a local specialist or the hospital itself. How we pull that longitudinal record together remains to be seen. And I think that’s going to be a chief challenge as we move forward with this distributed health care model.

We’ve also seen a signal from President elect Biden in his nomination to his Covid-19 Equity Task Force, Dr. Nina Smith from Yale Medical School, who has social determinants & social equity in health care, as her core area of expertise and thus highlighting the role that social determinants of health will likely play in the next administration during 2021.

Jody Ranck, Senior Analyst

Jody Ranck: [00:11:56] Another prediction I have is in the area of social determinants of health. We recently published a report on social determinants of health, and what we’re seeing is that the disparate disease burden of the pandemic across black and Latino communities bearing a disproportionate burden of disease has brought to the forefront the need to address these social determinants of health as part of part and parcel of addressing the pandemic itself and beyond. We’ve also seen a signal from President elect Biden in his nomination to his covid-19 Equity Task Force, Dr. Marcella Nuñez-Smith from Yale Medical School, who has social determinants & social equity in health care, as her core area of expertise and thus highlighting the role that social determinants of health will likely play in the next administration during 2021.

Brian Murphy: [00:12:53] I’m going to be looking at offerings from a variety of different vendors that really help different kinds of health care organizations: payors, providers, health plans, clinical research, What have you? Do better at integration projects? I’m also going to be looking at some of the tools and techniques that are new and different that help organizations really take better advantage of the data that they have.

Jody Ranck: [00:13:18] My final prediction for 2021 is that we’re going to see sort of a growing maturation of the FDA’s thinking on softwares as a medical device, which has direct implications for approvals for many A.I. based solutions in health care. Increasingly, we’re seeing A.I. as a component of sort of de-professionalising a device that used to require a professional to use it. Now, a layperson or less skilled person than an M.D. can use that device. and A.I. plays a role in and sort of making sure that the device is used appropriately. And for that and beyond into the areas such as a remote patient monitoring, we’re seeing that the FDA has finally come around and is offering clear guidance on what how they’re going to regulate A.I. and algorithms. And so that’s going to open up the doors a bit more for companies in this space to get to accelerate FDA approvals.

John Moore III: [00:14:19] Well, I guess only time will tell how many of these come through this year. And we hope that you enjoyed hearing what our analysts had to say about what they expect to be happening. If you like this video, please be sure to click the like button below. And if you want to engage anyone from our team, you can either reach out to us directly on our website or leave a comment in the comments section.

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