WhatHIT in 2017 and for the long haul

With major projects like ICD-10 and Meaningful Use largely behind us and new initiatives like precision medicine in the future, 2017 will be a transitional year. A great deal of technology infrastructure has been laid down, and 2017 will be the year to deal with some of the implications of these technology investments and get started on some of the value-added functions they enable. Over the past eight years, the healthcare industry has invested heavily in an EHR infrastructure, and in 2017 the risks and rewards related to this investment will begin to come to fruition.

Enabling a shift to value-based reimbursement will be one reward. It will be critical to ensure that the rewards associated with value-based reimbursement flow back to the providers who are enabling it through their increased documentation efforts.

Another reward will be the ability to track specific genomic, behavioral, and social data to enable precision medicine and provide better outcomes than ever before.

President Obama’s signature healthcare project, the Precision Medicine Initiative, and Vice President Biden’s closely related Cancer Moonshot project put the focus on precision medicine in 2016. The 21st Century Cures Act continues funding for these programs into 2017 and beyond, so we should expect continued momentum in this area.

While these programs focus on genetic aspects of precision medicine, a new kind of precision medicine is also emerging. Behavioral and social determinants of health are just as specific to an individual and have just as much impact as genetics. These factors also have the advantage of being easier to manage at a lower cost.

Therefore, in 2017, we should expect to see a broadening of the definition of precision medicine. In the past, the term has been synonymous with genetic variations, but going forward, we’ll see a more comprehensive picture of a patient’s status being used to tailor treatments for their unique situation.

This article was originally reported on the Health Management Technology website.