In a report issued by market research firm IBISWorld, industry analyst Sarah Turk predicts that burgeoning digital technologies will pay substantial dividends for healthcare by 2020, both reducing healthcare costs and improving access to care. Turk focuses on three key modalities in her report: telehealth, mobile health (mHealth), and interoperability.

Telehealth technology may help “mitigate the burden of the projected shortage of 20,400 primary care physicians by 2020,” Turk says. She notes that while many healthcare providers already engage in telehealth, the technology’s potential “has yet to be fully harnessed.”

Similarly, she says, mHealth—the “use of mobile applications and devices to exchange medical information, data or to provide clinical services”—will also transform healthcare information technology. Combined with the rise of telehealth, mHealth will move healthcare away “from relying on inpatient care and … toward outpatient, namely in-home, patient-monitoring services.”

However, for these advances to occur, the healthcare industry must overcome the challenge of interoperability. Due to the lack of “interoperability standards for medical equipment and related software,” Turk says, “the implementation of new technology may pose … an arduous task for healthcare providers.”

Turk’s full report is available online on the IBISWorld website.