Caitlin Clement|11/9/2023|5 min read

CTO Reveals 6 Health IT Trends to Watch in 2024

OpenLoop CTO, Curtis Olson, talks generative AI, wearables and clinician scheduling solutions

Graphic with the title "6 Health IT Trends to Watch For in 2024" with a head shot of OpenLoop CTO, Curtis Olson

It’s almost the end of 2023 and healthcare IT executives are looking to 2024 for better solutions and more innovative technologies. OpenLoop CTO, Curtis Olson, reveals his take on the ever-evolving healthcare IT market and what leaders should expect from the coming new year. Grab your coffee and get ready to take some notes on what your team may see in 2024.

The use of generative AI through an operational lens

It has been the year of AI, sparked by the debut of ChatGPT at the beginning of 2023, and there are no signs of it slowing down anytime soon. In fact, Olson sees a potential for generative AI, generative text specifically, to make its way into healthcare operations, support greater patient safety and offer assistance to providers like generating clinical notes.

“That text can be structured or utilized in ways that are really advantageous for clinical organizations, both from a management and efficiency standpoint, but also from an operational lens,” says Olson. 

In addition to operations, Olson highlights generative AI’s potential to augment better patient safety by drafting clinical protocols and offering treatment recommendations paired with clinical oversight. Essentially, it could save a lot of time for the clinician, that they can then spend seeing more patients, while also ensuring the patient receives the right treatments with better outcomes.  

Let’s give you an example scenario. Say a provider, we’ll call her Dr. Turner, is getting ready for an appointment with an older patient who has a complex medical history. Instead of looking through a stack of notes, papers and files to get a full picture of the patient's medical background, her EHR platform supports generative AI capabilities. Dr. Turner asks the AI to ‘provide a concise summary of the patient's medical history and current issues’. 

Within seconds, the AI generates a comprehensive summary, highlighting the patients key health concerns, previous treatments and potential drug interactions. It may even suggest a preliminary diagnosis based on the available information. 

Olson stresses that with any AI, expert oversight of some kind should always be present. It’s not meant to replace a provider, simply make operational processes more efficient. 

AI assistant and language learning models (LLMs)

AI assistants and LLMs can typically go hand-in-hand with generative AI. However, they do deserve their own spot when it comes to innovative technology to watch in 2024. Olson expects to see a greater use and investment in AI assistants for patient triaging and clinical charting. 

“Utilizing technology that can recognize when a clinician is speaking versus when a patient is speaking, and being able to create clinical summaries, for instance, things that humans generally don't have the bandwidth to do while they're focused on actually performing that consult, lends itself both to efficiency efficacy and patient safety.” says Olson. 

He goes on to further state that the biggest advancement AI technology like LLMs can offer companies is better efficiency without having to sacrifice in other areas like quality of care and patient experience. This makes Language Learning Models an area of AI that healthcare IT executives should pay close attention to improve solutions. 

Greater use of RPM devices (wearables) in preventative medicine

They were a trend to watch in 2023 and they’re back again for 2024! Remote patient monitoring (RPM) devices and wearable devices have shown incredible promise in the rise of value-based care and its focus on preventative medicine.

“I think culturally, we're starting to value [preventative care] a little bit more. It's becoming more accessible because of the introduction of a lot of these wearables and smart devices and how AI is being integrated with them. So, being able to detect certain health patterns or anomalies in patients that wear them,” says Olson. 

He sees the continued use and innovations of these RPM devices as one of the keys to less reactionary medicine, giving patients a chance to make certain health changes before they become chronic conditions. 

However, for those who do suffer with chronic conditions, RPM devices could also act as great CCM monitoring tool. Paired with AI capabilities, they can offer patients and their providers the tools to build, maintain and change treatment plans real-time. 

AI, diagnostic imaging and AWS HealthImaging

Another area to keep a close eye on is AI advancements in diagnostic imaging. Olson is already starting to come across its use in some areas of the industry but sees the potential for an even greater area of innovation with the release of AWS HealthImaging in 2023.

According to their website, AWS HealthImaging is designed for builders who develop cloud-native medical imaging applications. It ingests data in the DICOM P10 format and provides APIs for low-latency retrieval and purpose-built storage.

Olson expects to see even wider adoption of their services going forward. Their cloud-based API integrations make it easier and cheaper for companies to offer medical imaging or diagnostic imaging services instead of having to build from the ground-up.

“I think the biggest thing that they're doing is, and this is something AWS specifically does really well with most of its product offerings, it integrates so seamlessly with other aspects of software that teams build. And it requires less operational overhead for those teams as well. So instead of having to reinvent the wheel and build this from the ground-up, they can utilize this service and integrate it with their other services.” says Olson.

Additionally this “off-the-shelf” system leaves room for companies to focus on solving more proprietary business issues instead of spending years building a foundational service to then build their business off of. 

Better integrations and more interoperable EHRs

When interoperability started becoming a buzzword, it was more of a theory, or far off wish of what digital health care could and should be. As we come closer to 2024, interoperability is at the top of every health IT executives wishlist. It’s a big undertaking to unravel years of siloed platforms, but organizations have already begun the transition.

“I think for a long time, organizations were sort of incentivized not to be very interoperable because they were building systems that were somewhat siloed, and often being interoperable meant that you were sort of encouraging customer churn in a sense. Such that it was easy for a customer to leave you, right? Or easy for patients to go elsewhere because the exit was so simple.

However, I think the need for integration is really growing, as much as it has with other systems. Even other systems that maybe aren't directly related to servicing patients, but things that are maybe in the peripherals, like artificial intelligence and building integrations with third party systems,” says Olson.


Emerging solutions for clinician scheduling + utilization

A pain point Olson is seeing many telehealth organizations struggle with is how to streamline clinician scheduling and utilizations. The state-by-state regulations add a layer of complexity to when and how clinicians can see patients. This can cause problems for organizations and companies that are looking to reduce waste and see more patients. There haven’t been many innovations in the space to-date, something Olson is hoping will change in 2024. 

“So far there haven't been any obvious leaders in that space quite yet. I think there are a couple companies out there that are making small strides towards this effort. But it's not anything that I think anybody has solved well yet. It’s a bottleneck that the industry needs to start tackling,” says Olson.

Powering innovative telehealth

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