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Year in Review: Experts Weigh in on 2014's Top Trends

As if acronyms weren't already threatening to take over Health Information Techology (HIT), 2014 proved to be the year that abbreviations were key to understanding many of the year's top trends.

Think: ICD-10, HIPAA, BYOD and EMR (of course). Buzzwords, such as Meaningful Use and the Cloud, round out the remainder of the year's top trends.

We asked some industry experts to both gaze into their crystal balls for 2015 and also look back on 2014, which could undoubtedly be summarized as a year when m-health continued; patient engagement and involvement in their own healthcare continued to increase, and technology promised to overwhelm staff and burn out budgets.

Top trends in health information technology in 2014:

M-health: "2014 was the first year we saw mass adoption and innovation of m-Health tools," says Amanda Havard, Chief Innovations Officer at Health: ELT, a mobile- and cloud-based solution for managing managed care in Medicaid. "As the world continues to go mobile in every capacity, we've seen many questions arise around the use, need, implementation, and security of mobile."

Mergers: "Physicians are the core of how healthcare is delivered, but physicians are being impacted more because of the increased Merger and Acquisition activity occurring in the U.S. market," says Spencer Hamons, Regional Chief Information Officer, Healthcare at NetApp, Inc. "Unfortunately, many physicians are experiencing this effect on an ongoing basis. Some studies suggest that the employment of physicians has increased between 30% and 60% over the last five years. When a physician changes their practice / employment model, there are significant changes to that physician's daily activities. With the consolidation of health systems occurring throughout the country, physicians are being expected to undertake additional changes and their practices must assimilate into yet another organization."

More Transparency: "Increasing transparency in healthcare data on price, quality and convenience is putting more information in the hands of consumers and result in a transformative retail market for medical care," says Kitty Juniper, Of Counsel at law firm Buchalter Nemer. "For example, Medicare is now releasing various data so as to promote transparency in the healthcare sector; more rating data is expected in the future."

Big Data: "While we're still realizing the potential of large-scale efforts to obtain personal health data via mobile tools, such as sharing vital signs readings from Bluetooth-enabled devices with physicians, or utilizing the personal fitness data gathered by our smartphones, this collection of new data was certainly a trend this year," says Havard of Health: ELT. "Questions around its implementation, security and stakeholders will continue to grow as well."

Security: "Enforcing security and easing the health information exchange process were top concerns as the healthcare industry was the most susceptible to publicly disclosed and widely scrutinized data breaches this year," says Yvonne Li, co-founder of SurMD, a HIPPA compliant and certified cloud storage and sharing service.

As we look ahead, one thing is for sure: change is in the air. Physicians need to be ready for further IT transformation.

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