Digital Tools & Technology is dominated by innovative trends that have the power to drive healthcare change simply by their very concepts. While some of these are actively at play and demonstrating a measurable impact in the industry, others are more aspirational in nature and made the bracket due to their inspiring potential. 

Of note in this region is the dynamic between spending money to prop up legacy systems versus investing in next generation technology and the difficulty in identifying technology with staying power. 

On the risk side, innovation can be so exciting that it can lead to scope creep and reduced focus on ROI. The grand promises of a singular innovation, for example, can blind people to what’s practical and cost-effective, and 2023 would not be the year to make that mistake.

Watch the tournament unfold weekly on our LinkedIn page, where you can join the discussion too!

The Eight Trends and the First Four Matchups

This is the third straight March Healthcare Classic tournament appearance for Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. Starting with a #14 seed (in a field of 16) in 2021, this trend jumped to a four seed last year and this year takes the top spot in its region. Hopes are high for the promises of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning in healthcare, for both what it can accomplish for patients and for the needless treatment that it can help them avoid. In the first round, this trend takes on flashy newcomer, Extended Reality, which represents what’s possible in the future of healthcare. Predicted to be a $11.6B industry in five years, the global healthcare VR market has exciting potential for the marriage of computer and human skills to achieve dramatically better outcomes.

Clinical Automation makes its debut this year as a second seed and a favored defensive strongman against labor shortages and consistent employee burnout. This trend will meet seventh seed Precision/Personalized Medicine. Knocked out in the first round in 2022, Precision Medicine is back for another go, and with good reason. As science learns more about personalizing treatment for individuals, we are learning just how much resource waste can be avoided while improving clinical results. The game-changing potential for Precision/Personalized Medicine is so large that if it doesn’t go far in the tournament this year, eventually it will.

At the number three seed is IT and Infrastructure Modernization, a black hole of need for healthcare due to the enormous data and privacy demands of our industry. While this topic is truly the backbone of this region, healthcare has traditionally not made the deep investments it needs, due to competing demands and fear of investing in obsolescence. This trend’s matchup with five-seed Cybersecurity should be a good one. Cybersecurity is not just a healthcare trend but a global megatrend, and every industry seeks to fortify their defenses and create policies and practices to protect assets. In healthcare, however, human lives are at stake, and this trend has great potential to make it far in this tournament. Rightly so, healthcare is highly concerned about its vulnerabilities to bad actors capable of operational, financial and reputational destruction.

Remote Patient Monitoring returns in back-to-back tournament appearances, having made it to the Round of 8 in 2022. Another tool seen as a way to relieve staff workload and create efficiencies, Remote Patient Monitoring is a low-risk and proven technology that has rapidly become standard in modern healthcare practices. This number four trend will meet number five Digital Front Door. While facilities and provider practices have been quick to implement this tool to engage patients, there is a wide range of quality and very little consistency across the industry. There is no doubt that the Digital Front Door is here to stay – the question is, how can its value be optimized for patient engagement?

Read about the trends in the other three regions: Healthcare Economy, Purchasers, Clinical & Business Model.

What trends do you think are leading the pack? 

Join the conversation on LinkedIn and make your predictions by March 8.

This is commentary from our 2023 March Healthcare Classic. Explore this year’s interactive bracket to see the most impactful healthcare trends face off.