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With the new year underway, healthcare CIOs are gearing up to adopt new technology initiatives. Many healthcare executives are eager to get started on new projects that will give them an opportunity to test out some of the new innovations others in the industry have engaged in. Here are five healthcare technology trends CIOs should pay attention to in 2019.
Artificial intelligence has shown a significant growth in maturity and adoption in the last few years. In healthcare, its uses include image processing to detect abnormalities that radiologists are not able to detect and analyzing medical charts to identify high-risk patients. Healthcare CIOs who have not adopted AI should plan for 2019 to be the start of their journey to ensure they are not falling behind.
The adoption of business intelligence and analytics has risen across multiple hospital departments. Dashboards are being used to monitor hospital operations, infectious diseases, readmission rates, population outcomes and more. This trend has encouraged other departments to consider it for themselves. 2019 will continue to see more adoption of dashboards with advanced insights that take advantage of machine learning and data mining capabilities. IT will need to lead those initiatives and support data integration and access in order to make them operational.
Hybrid cloud deployment
VMware and Microsoft have both enhanced their data center server products to facilitate the transition to the cloud. The latest versions of Windows Server 2019 and VMware Cloud support a hybrid setup where Azure or Amazon can be used alongside an on-premises server deployment and allow for faster and easier migration of servers and data to the cloud with little effort. This flexibility eases the pain of moving to the cloud for hospitals that are staying on premises and provides them with an opportunity to use the cloud for some of their growing storage and disaster recovery needs as they go into 2019.
Virtual reality gained more popularity in 2018 thanks to new hardware headsets and advancements in 3D rendering, and this year it is among the top healthcare technology trends. Healthcare CIOs need to consider the different use cases for virtual reality in their hospitals. One use case is virtual reality-based training for clinicians where they can experience surgeries and other educational sessions in 3D. Virtual reality also allows patients to immerse themselves in 3D worlds for anxiety treatment, stress relief and physical therapy.
Last year, one of the most popular healthcare technology trends was blockchain and it remains a hot -- if widely debated -- topic in 2019. Blockchain has been attractive to many industries because of its ability to transmit data across participating computers while ensuring the validity and authenticity of that data. Gartner recently predicted that blockchain's value-add for business will grow to just over $360 billion by 2026. By 2030, that number will surge to more than $3.1 trillion, according to Gartner. Healthcare CIOs will need to evaluate the technology and understand the potential benefits they can take advantage of, such as secure healthcare data exchange.
There are certainly other healthcare technology trends in their early hype cycle that healthcare CIOs are aware of, but most are not jumping to any new shiny object they see or hear about. Healthcare CIOs tend to adopt only meaningful technologies that support patient care, improve outcomes and provide their hospitals with tangible returns on investment. Given the growing list of technologies to choose from, healthcare CIOs must weigh resources, budgets and overall hospital priorities to decide what gets implemented in 2019 and what gets pushed to 2020 and beyond.