The legendary Arnold Palmer won 62 titles on the PGA tour, gave golf tips to U.S. presidents and brought a love of the links to the masses. In tribute to “The King,” this week’s HIT List tees up some technologies likely to change the course of healthcare, including APIs, femtech and the public cloud.
- Femtech takes off. There’s growing interest — and growing investment — in startups focused on the female health tech market. Nine female-centric companies raised $82 million in the first three quarters of 2015 alone, close to three times the amount invested in 2014. Entrepreneurs apparently see promising opportunities in technologies such as connected breast pumps, smartphone-based fertility trackers with the potential to act as “digital contraceptives,” and apps that can help identify diseases such as endometriosis.
- API ASAP. With the ONC essentially requiring APIs in health IT systems be used to obtain federal reimbursement, many vendors and developers are quickly jumping on the API bandwagon. Although some experts view APIs as a standard of sorts for developers seeking easier health data exchange, others contend APIs are not a magic bullet when it comes to interoperability. Hopefully they’re at least a giant step forward.
- Epic adventures. Epic System’s recent annual Users Group Meeting (UGM) attracted nearly 18,000 people from 13 countries. The vendor introduced several new initiatives at the “Adventure in Wonderland”-themed UGM, including a faster, cheaper way to install EHR software, the creation of a massive data repository to support research and efforts to address the growing opioid epidemic. No reports on whether Alice, the White Rabbit, the Queen of Hearts or the Cheshire Cat attended.
- Hi-tech Rx for dementia. An alliance of universities, vendors, social service agencies and the National Health Service launched a two-year “Test Bed” project in southern England to explore whether the IoT can help treat dementia. The goal is to use network-connected devices such as monitors, robotics and wearables to provide more responsive care and better quality of life for people with dementia, and help them get the support they need to live comfortably in their own homes. Sounds like a smart way to tackle the increasing demand for services from an aging population.
- Cloud-y considerations. The elasticity of the public cloud — which enables provisioning capacity based on demand — can prove ideal for healthcare providers, say CIOs who’ve tried it. For example, USMD Health System has found the cloud’s pay-as-you-go model preferable to big outlays for on-premises hardware, especially as it tries to predict its need to expand infrastructure in a post-merger environment. USMD’s CIO also believes the public cloud offers better security than in-house data centers, but other healthcare tech executives remain cautious about outsourcing control of patient data. The push-pull continues.