It’s ironic how Health IT works, people are constantly building to make it easier for you to understand your health, make better medical decisions so you end up becoming so self-sufficient that you eventually have no need for these tools anymore. Are we at that point yet? Definitely not. Are we closer to it? Certainly making progress with every year that passes. In 2013, there will be several new innovations that will spring up in the space, but there will also be growth on the work done previously. Here are a few things we think will really take shape in 2013.

1. Personal Health Records will see some change. In the past, there has always been the health records that are not necessarily available to the average patient. Until very recently, very few consumers have signed on standalone PHRs but we imagine things will most likely start to really change in 2013. With tools like Symcat, people are able to keep a digital health record for themselves where they can keep track of their symptoms, medication, allergies, family health history, health plans etc. We believe there will be a lot interaction between PHRs and digital health records like what Symcat provides. 

Large companies like Microsoft seem to be betting on this as well, they have recently launched a pilot with Greenway Medical Technologies that will add clinical data to their own Microsoft’s Health platform. By marrying both sides, users now have information available that was never the case in previous years.

2. Mobile Health. We think there will be a lot of progress in mobile health generally. We already know of a lot of services offering users the chance to set up appointments, get diagnosis or Doctor recommendation over mobile devices, but we think there will be even more progress in this sector in 2013. A big contributing factor has been the ease with which people can access EHRs - information that used to only be accessible in hospitals. 

In line with all of these, we’ve also seen a surge in number of fitness and health apps people are downloading to their mobile devices. Patients with chronic diseases are also taking advantage of iPhone and Android hardware attachments that let them measure blood pressure, sugar level etc and report them back to their physicians. There will be a lot more of this in 2013. For entrepreneurs looking to build Health IT startups, this is one area you may want to look at, as there won’t be any slowing down there in the next 5 or so years. At Symcat, we are always working to improve and evolve the digital health record part of the app to make tracking and reporting even easier than it is now.

According to a recent PricewaterhouseCoopers survey of consumers and physicians, more than 50% of consumers predict that within the next three years, mobile health will improve the convenience (46%), cost (52%) and quality (48%) of their healthcare. Time will tell.

3. Growth in Telemedicine. Telemedicine has been around for a while but there is bound to be movement in this space with all the technology that is being developed everyday. A few weeks ago, Symcat was at the mHealth summit in Washington DC and right in front of our booth was Intermountain Healthcare, promoting some of the new telemedicine innovations they’ve made available. Their consumers are now able to track and send their health reports to their healthcare provider and when the need arises, they can easily jump on a video call with a Doctor who has all the information he needs to give you a diagnosis and offer a treatment. There will be a surge in this space as well in 2013.

4. Big Data Analysis. With all the data available in healthcare these days, there will be several attempts to use all of that to provide -amongst others- preventive information for consumers. People will very easily and very quickly get a heads up when there’s an outbreak of illness brewing and measures on how to avoid it. There will be innovations that personalize health-related advice for users based on health history and conditions like never before. 

- Tolu.