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Gartner Names Top Health IT Infrastructure Technology Trends

Gartner touches on artificial intelligence, machine learning, and edge computing for the future of health IT infrastructure.

Future health IT infrastructure trends

Source: Thinkstock

By Elizabeth O'Dowd

- Garner released its latest commentary on the top strategic technology trends, many of which are emerging in health IT infrastructure.

“Gartner defines a strategic technology trend as one with substantial disruptive potential that is beginning to break out of an emerging state into broader impact and use, or which are rapidly growing trends with a high degree of volatility reaching tipping points over the next five years,” Gartner explained.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are both emerging and play a large role in several of the top IT trends. AI has become the next major technology for a large number of services and software.

AI systems create and adapt with the intention of acting autonomously to complete tasks. The healthcare industry intends to use AI to help clinicians make faster and more informed decisions at the point of care. Creating data repositories using AI will help clinicians use more data at a faster rate to give more accurate diagnoses.

"AI techniques are evolving rapidly and organizations will need to invest significantly in skills, processes and tools to successfully exploit these techniques and build AI-enhanced systems," Gartner Fellow and Vice President David Cearley said in a statement. "Investment areas can include data preparation, integration, algorithm and training methodology selection, and model creation. Multiple constituencies including data scientists, developers and business process owners will need to work together."

READ MORE: Artificial Intelligence to Strain Health IT Infrastructure

The use of AI continues as Gartner also predicts intelligent apps for analytics to rise in the coming years. More apps will have AI incorporated in them. The goal of intelligent apps is to add a layer between users and systems so apps can be used differently and integrated more seamlessly into everyday workflow.

"Explore intelligent apps as a way of augmenting human activity and not simply as a way of replacing people," said Cearley. "Augmented analytics is a particularly strategic growing area which uses machine learning to automate data preparation, insight discovery and insight sharing for a broad range of business users, operational workers and citizen data scientists."

Intelligent things interact more naturally with their surroundings and assist users with advanced behavior. These extended capabilities are being explored using Internet of Things (IoT) devices and connected systems. Self-driving cars and robot medical assistants are examples of intelligent things that can be utilized.

Digital twins are also emerging as a way to use virtual and augmented reality in health IT infrastructure. Digital twins create a replica of a real-world object that organizations can modify without affecting the original.

Healthcare organizations can potentially use digital twins to replicate human anatomy to aid in the education of new surgeons.

READ MORE: Edge Computing Uses IoT Devices for Fast Health IT Analytics

Gartner also identified edge computing as an emerging technology, a notion that was also touched upon by many technology experts at VMworld 2017.

Cloud originally gave organizations a centralized point to access data. Data volume is growing rapidly in healthcare as organizations are exploring analytics. The volume of data is slowed as it’s directed toward a centralized location.

Edge computing collects and analyzes data at the edge of the network, which gives clinicians the opportunity to collect and assess patient data at the data source. This results in faster diagnoses and a reduction in return visits.

"When used as complementary concepts, cloud can be the style of computing used to create a service-oriented model and a centralized control and coordination structure with edge being used as a delivery style allowing for disconnected or distributed process execution of aspects of the cloud service," Cearley explained.

Gartner identified blockchain as another emerging technology trend. Blockchain is making waves in the healthcare organization as the first healthcare specific blockchain solution from Change Healthcare was announced last week. Many open source projects and working on developing a blockchain standard so organizations can easily exchange data among them.

READ MORE: What Does Blockchain Mean for Health IT Infrastructure?

Blockchain is being considered heavily in healthcare as a way to cure interoperability issues among healthcare organizations using different EHR systems.

“As today’s healthcare system becomes more value-based, it’s essential that we aggressively and pervasively introduce new technologies into healthcare at scale—whether they leverage blockchain, artificial intelligence, or other emerging capabilities with the potential to improve outcomes and efficiencies,” Change Healthcare CEO Neil de Crescenzo said in a statement. “We are initially introducing blockchain technology to create a distributed ledger that makes claims processing and secure payment transactions work more efficiently and cost effectively for all healthcare stakeholders.”

These emerging technologies are aimed at making workflow and data analytics automated and simplified so clinicians can spend more time interacting with their patients instead of physically controlling their technology.

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