Quality Care

2021 Acceleration: Delivering Care

Man in a medical appointment

In 2021, the world is facing a critical demand for the acceleration of health, which can only be addressed by first establishing a proper diagnosis. Members of the HIMSS leadership team have identified some of the common problem areas we share as a global society and a health citizenship, and they have provided recommendations on how best to meet this need for acceleration. Ultimately, the accelerated delivery of solutions in healthcare is vital to realizing the full health potential of every human, everywhere.

Information technology has always been at the center of innovation. It has created a path for the best data to be delivered at the right time to guide accurate and informed decision-making, an approach that is leveraged across industries. However, in healthcare – due in part to a complex array of stakeholders, a web of IT systems, concerns around data privacy and safeguards to protect patient health and safety – innovation has often lagged. That is, until now.

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Steve Wretling


"Right now we’re bespoke, we’re fragmented and we’re well-intentioned."
– Steve Wretling, CTIO, HIMSS


In 2021, primary care will experience huge pressure. Around 50 percent of primary care revenue is down, and we’re going to see that continue. Hospitals are at their highest capacity right now, and this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Patients and providers will double down on virtual visits and home health technology, but with a continued focus on getting those who need to be seen in-person, the chronically ill population who need hands-on, eyes-on visits beyond remote care in the home.

We will likely see some compression in hospitals and in practices. There will be a significant drive to manage revenue and a huge drive in consumer behavior change, using technology for access to care and prevention. Our view at HIMSS is that people will not revert to the same amount of in-person visits. At HIMSS, we also believe that by 2025, 50 percent of visits will be telehealth, and we believe that target will still be reached.

There is going to be a significant focus on leveraging the systems and investments hospitals and insurers have already made. There will be significant growth in workflow automation and tools that can build on existing platforms without completely replacing platforms, such as workflow automation and robotic process automation enabled by the 21st Century Cures Act. Next year, finding efficiency and managing revenue will be a priority.

Interoperability will continue to be center stage.

HIMSS hopes to see a multi-year investment by governments into public health infrastructure. The industry needs to be able to gather data, to understand what’s happening with citizens across the world and to make policies and investments that will actually move the needle and make a difference.

Right now, we’re bespoke, we’re fragmented, and we’re well-intentioned. We need investment to get insights and make change or we won’t be able to meet the challenges. Challenges happen at a micro level because trends are happening locally and regionally based on different kinds of diseases.

Today, our imperative is to accelerate the digital transformation of healthcare so we can truly bring the coronavirus crisis to an end and continue to take advantage of the new possibilities, innovations and capabilities in digital health. We need to bring our data systems into the 21st century.

It is more apparent than ever that digital solutions and digital information are essential to our ability to detect, treat and manage not just highly infectious diseases like COVID-19, but the whole range of health challenges we are facing and we will need to confront in the years ahead.

Public health professionals and frontline healthcare providers must have connected data and reporting systems so they can access and share information that is critical to effective policymaking and care in times of a health crisis.

Clinicians must have access to health IT systems that are designed to ensure that patients and consumers are at the center of care delivery, with access to the right information at the right time so they can communicate seamlessly with their providers and make informed decisions about their care.

To achieve this, it is essential that we move forward to implement standardized systems and platforms for data exchange that will improve interoperability across the healthcare ecosystem.

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