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mHealth, Privacy Among PwC's Top Health Issues for 2015

January 8, 2015
by Gabriel Perna
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PricewaterhouseCoopers' (PwC) Health Research Institute (HRI) has released its annual list of the top healthcare issues for 2015, and once again, a number of items are health IT-related. 
The annual list focuses on the transformation of the health care industry and what specific trends are shaping that change. Similar to last year's list, the research organization focused a lot on technology trends and new payment models within healthcare.
The first trend on the list, "Do-It-Yourself Healthcare," focused on the rise of patient-generated health data devices, like those that monitor patients remotely and track medication adherence. HRI says that these medical devices will provide clinicians with better data to diagnose patients and flag earlier signs of trouble. They advise that traditional clinical health IT systems should open their walls to allow these devices to integrate. 
Despite this, the institute polled both clinicians and consumers for the piece and found a lack of willingness to use these kinds of at-home medical devices from both sides. A majority of clinicians are uncomfortable with the idea, but even less consumers indicate they'd use these at-home devices.
The second trend also focused on mobile health (mHealth). The HRI indicates that with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) poised to regulate more mHealth apps than ever before in 2015, developers must bolster their knowhow in this area. Those who are better primed for regulatory review will succeed in the industry, HRI predicts.
Another focus of the HRI trend piece was data security. The threat of data breaches, the piece says, is higher than ever before. Health systems should invest in additional cyber security personnel and protection, HRI says. Consumers polled for the piece said that data security trumps convenience when it comes to usage of access to medical data on the web.
The fourth trend was about the development of innovative cost-savings models to manage the most expensive patients. Part of these models, HRI says, include the implementation of high-tech wearables and virtual telemedicine care. Care coordination will be the benchmark of high performance in this area, the researchers say. Other trends that have a technology tint include the transparency of payments data and care collaborations between various healthcare stakeholders.

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