Personal health records. The concept is attractive, as it gives patients ownership of their data, but poor usability and vendor disinterest have hindered adoption. Only with a government mandate, as is the case in Australia, does PHR adoption seem to catch on, Gartner says. Patient portals, which connect patients directly to their caregivers, are more popular.
The patient-centered medical home. There's been much discussion of making this a reality, especially in light of the accountable care organization model touted by healthcare reform and examples such as the "granny pod," but information exchange challenges and a reimbursement model unfavorable to insurers hinder adoption.
Patient self-serve kiosks. While these can streamline patient registration and payment collection, the ROI isn't there, Gartner says. Most organizations are better off focusing on meaningful use or the conversion to the ICD-10 code set, which must be done by Oct. 1, 2014.
Patients Missing Piece in Healthcare IT Innovation
That said, Shaffer says patients are the missing piece. Now that clinicians are using computers to interpret data, communicate and engage with patients while they're in the hospital--all of which improve care--it's time to bring patients into the mix as well. This takes on added importance as chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and obesity continue to affect populations around the world.
Habitual patient engagement, which can remind them to exercise or take their medicine, can help physicians respond to situations that would ordinarily result in hospitalization. This cuts costs, which is no small matter--treating chronic conditions accounts for 75% of overall U.S. health care costs, and many such conditions are preventable.
Shaffer encourages healthcare organizations to look for innovations wherever they may be. Twenty years ago, new technology trickled down from the developed world (namely, the United States). Today, though, hospitals in Singapore, New Zealand, the Middle East and elsewhere can offer lessons to American providers.
"Innovations come from anywhere and discoveries need to be accessible from everywhere," Shaffer says. "There really is a shrinking of the world."