Big data and technology evolution has created tremendous opportunities for almost all industries. In the world of medicine, healthcare data has enabled medical practitioners to achieve even the impossible – like diagnosing cancer at its benign stage and predicting its likely outcome in the future.
Well, what’s interesting is that the healthcare industry is a major contributor to big data.
“Healthcare data contributes nearly 30% of the exponentially growing big data”
According to estimates published by Capital Markets, the CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of healthcare data is estimated to reach 36% by 2025, which is 6% faster than manufacturing, 11% faster than media & entertainment, and 10% faster than financial data.
Here are a couple of trends for 2022 that have stemmed as a result of technology evolution and big data in the healthcare terrain.
#1. AI will enable the development of next-generation radiology tools
The application of AI in the healthcare industry has been a hot topic of discussion for years. For a long time now, most applications of AI have been focusing on cancer diagnosis and analyzing health data to help physicians make faster and well-informed decisions. However, the ever-increasing need for trained healthcare providers like radiologists and better patient care has made AI pioneers turn their focus on other streams of healthcare as well.
With the help of AI and health data, healthcare providers can develop next-generation radiology tools that can even eliminate the need for sample tissue in some cases. Also, healthcare can be made easily accessible for those in developing or underserved regions.
“the potential of AI to increase access to healthcare is tremendous”Associate Professor of Radiology at HMS
A real-time example to understand the capability of AI in radiology is RADIOLens. This cloud-based, AI-backed PACS solution automatically detects bad quality scans and creates preliminary reports to accelerate workflow.
#2. New HIPAA regulations around healthcare data are likely to come in 2022
While AI is enabling the healthcare industry to make medical devices and machines intelligent and transform the Electronic Health Record (EHR) into a reliable risk prediction platform, the revolutionary technology has also created some thought-provoking challenges. For instance, how to use patient data for the greater good without violating patient privacy.
As a result, the HIPAA enforced the Omnibus Rule in 2013 for safeguarding patients’ privacy and health information in a fast-advancing digital world. On the flip side, this affected treatment decisions and in turn patient care.
For instance, confidentiality to SUD records led to the opioid crisis.
In 2016, nearly 42,000 deaths occurred in the U.S. as a result of opioid overdose
The new regulations are most likely to be associated with the new requirements mandated by HITECH (Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health) as a result of the HIPAA Omnibus Rule. The Office of Civil Rights or the OCR issued an NPRM (Notice of Proposed Rulemaking) on 10 December 2020, proposing a bunch of changes to the privacy rule imposed by HIPAA.
The revised HIPAA privacy rule is expected to be issued in 2022. However, there is no date mentioned as to when the new rule will become effective.
#3. Healthcare cyber-attacks are likely to increase in 2022 and coming years
Healthcare data is the key target for most ransomware attacks in recent years.
While there are numerous rules and regulations to protect patient privacy in healthcare, cyber security measures to protect data confidentiality are still inadequate.
“In 2020 alone, nearly 560 U.S healthcare facilities claimed themselves as victims of ransomware attacks
As a result of these malware attacks huge amounts of PHI (Protected Health Information) and other sensitive data were stolen and published
Further, EHRs (Electronic Health Records) became temporarily inaccessible, and in some worst cases, permanently lost. Other terrible repercussions included delayed tests, procedures, and treatments.
Here’s a list of factors that affect cybersecurity in healthcare institutions according to the observations of Herjavec Group, in 2021:
* Overworked professionals who are tired, mentally, and emotionally
* Understaffed operations
* Understaffed cybersecurity and IT departments
* Unpatched and legacy IT applications and systems
* 3rd party partners that are unsecured
The other reasons for the increased ransomware attacks in healthcare include:
* Healthcare staff’s lack of knowledge about online risks
* Outdated technology
* Increased number of connected medical devices
* Increased remote access of patient data
#4. Blockchain to improve healthcare data sharing & security in radiology
Blockchain, a promising technology for tracking information in a manner that is impossible to change, cheat, or hack the system, has become popular worldwide for its application in the cryptocurrency markets. Well, blockchain could be a silver lining for the healthcare industry, as the technology can help healthcare providers avoid catastrophic ransomware attacks.
The European Society of Radiology mentioned in one of its whitepapers, “Insights into Imaging” has stated that “Blockchain has the potential to empower both patients and radiologists. “ The author of the whitepaper also emphasized that the radiology community should invest in building and implementing blockchain technologies so they can establish rigorous and adequate control on the use of their data.
Matter of fact, a country in Northern Europe, Estonia, which is known for its e-savvy governments, has already started using blockchain in healthcare on a national scale. Nearly, 95% of the country’s health information is ledger-based.
Here are a bunch of examples that showcase how the healthcare industry can benefit from blockchain:
* A radiology report contains meticulous patient information, data from different modalities and about numerous body systems, including inputs from many experts. With blockchain, healthcare providers can trace individual contributions and thereby facilitate direct consultations
* AI is now used in many healthcare institutions to mine medical data to help medical practitioners provide better treatment experiences. With blockchain, end-users can differentiate AI-derived information in diagnostic reports. Even better, the end-user can track which AI tool and version was used
* With the help of blockchain, healthcare providers can monitor who accessed which part of the EMR (Electronic Medical Records). This can help in improving follow-up care significantly
* Blockchain can help in improving patient experience. Healthcare data is growing at a phenomenal rate and as are patients’ concerns about their information. With blockchain, patients can control their information, choose when and who can access their imaging results, and maintain a detailed record of such information
The challenges and possibilities with healthcare data never cease. And so is the evolution of technology. With the help of advanced technologies like AI and blockchain, healthcare providers can effectively use healthcare data to optimize treatment methods, provide better patient care, and improve cyber security measures.