A doctor in a white lab coat sits at a desk and talks at an open laptop. The doctor is a young man with dark hair and a neatly trimmed mustache and beard. He has a stethoscope hung around his heck and he gestures with his hands as he talks with a telehealth patient. Behind him is a freestanding set of shelves holding several medical textbooks, a diploma in a frame, and a clock. An anatomy chart of the human muscle system hangs on the wall.
Telehealth and telemedicine services are expected to continue to grow, and medical vendors will likely act accordingly by incorporating virtual care features into their products. — Getty Images/Evgeniia Siiankovskaia

Medical office software is integral to successful practice management. It streamlines clinical and administrative duties. However, healthcare tools must adapt to changing environments while adhering to the latest regulations. Discover trends impacting the future of medical office software and predictions on how new capabilities will affect providers and clients.

Improved interoperability and API standardization

Interoperability allows patients to access electronic health information and transmit it to providers more easily. It also facilitates data sharing with federal agencies for reporting and prior authorization purposes. New guidelines support a future where consumers can use their preferred smartphone application to view medical records from multiple providers. Indeed, we expect technology vendors to improve interoperability and application programming interface (API) access, giving practitioners and patients more integrated software options.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Interoperability and Patient Access rule, finalized in 2020, requires certain payers to share patients’ health data upon request and add data they receive to client records. The goal is to provide “longitudinal records” that follow patients throughout their healthcare journey.

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) requires developers of health information technology to use standardized APIs. It provides API certification criteria for EHRs and sets fees, transparency, and business practices standards.

Several medical office platforms allow for immunization and meaningful use reporting. For instance, AdvancedMD supports interoperability, allowing practitioners to integrate with other systems, share patient information with providers, and submit reports.

[Read more: Moderna Executive on Advancing Health Equity in Medical Research]

Building out voice recognition tools

Speech recognition is a top trend for medical office software, including practice management and electronic health record (EHR) platforms. Voice features use artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing (NLP). These technologies will continue to advance with machine learning (ML) capabilities, enabling technologies to learn from previous conversations, resulting in more precise transcriptions.

In addition, physicians and office administrators can expect voice tools to support more tasks. Mobile and desktop applications will let users preauthorize insurance, check schedules, and access research.

Currently, NextGen Healthcare (part of Thoma Bravo) turns patient-provider conversations into temporary transcripts with 90% accuracy. On the other hand, Athenahealth offers a voice assistant for creating draft orders, documenting exams, and retrieving clinical information.

Increased transparency around AI in healthcare

Although AI is enormously beneficial in healthcare, many concerns exist. The recent AI Executive Order and ongoing work by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) suggest that responsible and transparent technology development will be a priority for medical office software. Indeed, 15 AI companies committed to developing models responsibly, and 28 healthcare providers and payers voluntarily agreed to the “safe, secure, and trustworthy use and purchase and use of AI in healthcare.”

AI technology development and implementation should follow FAVES principles, leading to “healthcare outcomes that are Fair, Appropriate, Valid, Effective, and Safe.” Software vendors agree to disclose information about their funding, the AI’s training data, performance measures, and more.

Speech recognition is a top trend for medical office software, including practice management and electronic health record (EHR) platforms.

Prioritizing automation

The American Hospital Association (AHA) said, “America will face a shortage of up to 124,000 physicians by 2033 and will need to hire at least 200,000 nurses per year to meet increased demand and to replace retiring nurses.” The need for lower-wage healthcare workers like home health aides and medical assistants will increase significantly, with Mercer estimating that the United States needs about 10.7 million individuals. Yet, we will face “a substantial shortage of critical healthcare labor in this country — coming up more than 3.2 million workers short within five years.”

Workforce shortages will impact patient care and workers. While software can’t replace the human touch, it can automate workflows and reduce manual tasks. Current use cases for robotic process automation (RPA) include claims management and appointment scheduling.

We predict medical practices will look for digital labor options via RPA and other technologies. Healthcare software will expand automation capabilities to offer more value to healthcare practices. Indeed, the RPA market is expected to increase to more than $13 billion by 2030.

[Read more: Nurx CEO: Listen to Your Customers And They’ll Tell You How to Pivot]

Expanding telehealth and telemedicine

In 2022, the North American telemedicine market was $41.85 billion, and the telehealth market size was $59.35 billion. Fortune Business Insights predicts the global telemedicine market will grow from $94.44 billion in 2023 to $286.22 billion by 2030, and the global telehealth market will expand from $142.96 billion in 2023 to $504.24 billion by 2030.

The rise in telehealth and telemedicine is due, in part, to the surging demand for virtual care services and a need to reduce healthcare costs. Consequently, we expect medical office software vendors to expand their integrations with telehealth platforms or include virtual care features with bundled service plans.

Developers will improve collaborative tools, patient-physician engagement features, and provider-to-provider capabilities as the market becomes more competitive. In addition, key industry developments include partnerships between remote patient monitoring (RPM) and telehealth providers and continued venture capital investment in virtual care delivery.

Support for wearable devices and remote patient monitoring

In 2021, 39% of respondents to a Deloitte survey reported owning smartwatches. Deloitte predicted that 440 million consumer health and wellness wearable devices will ship worldwide by 2024. It said, “The percentage of consumers using them to manage chronic conditions and detect symptoms of serious diseases will likely increase.” Caregivers and doctors also monitor health remotely via sensors and patches.

Increasingly, patients want to share data with healthcare providers. Interoperability standards should improve practitioner access, and patients expect medical office solutions to support data transfers from third-party devices, including smartwatches and medical RPM hardware and sensors.

Leveraging generative AI

According to Bain & Company, “75% of health system executives believe generative AI has reached a turning point in its ability to reshape the industry.” In the next two to five years, leaders look for generative AI to assist with treatment recommendations, predictive analytics, and clinical decision support.

We’re already seeing generative AI tools popping up in medical office software. athenaOne announced that practitioners will soon have AI-generated huddle reports and pre-drafted responses. The company believes its AI features will help athenaOne network providers who “spend more than 35% of clinical inbox time managing patient case documents.”

Epic Systems and Microsoft joined forces to incorporate GPT-4 into EHRs, and Google Cloud debuted an AI-powered claims acceleration suite. Plus, Doximity rolled out a beta ChatGPT tool in February 2023. Doximity GPT is a Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)-compliant writing assistant.

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