By now, virtually everyone in the business world (as well as various other worlds) will have heard of the ancient Chinese adage, “May you be cursed to live in interesting times.”

It’s hard to imagine a more interesting time in healthcare IT than this: clearly, our industry has reached some kind of inflection point, with the impact of both the 2009 ARRA-HITECH Act and of federal healthcare reform legislation being felt now industry-wide. What’s more, all the developments taking place in the purchaser/payer-driven marketplace are moving in the same direction as those coming out of HITECH and healthcare reform; in other words, for the first time, all the demands for improved patient safety, care quality, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness being made by those who pay for healthcare are being expressed through mandates that are consonant with one another, and that implicate healthcare IT development and automation as well. So at least healthcare provider leaders no longer have the excuse that they can’t understand what purchasers and payers want.

The challenge, instead, will be for CIOs, CMIOs, VPs of clinical informatics, and others, to sit down with their clinician and administrator colleagues in hospitals, medical groups, and health systems, and figure out how to prioritize strategies, resources, and people to meet the intense and intensifying demands being expressed through legislation and through private and semi-private action. In that context, this year’s Top Tech Trends-which this year number 10 rather than the previous nine-all speak to the core message being sounded by purchasers, payers, and policymakers at all levels of the healthcare system. Preparing to create accountable care organizations, developing medical home models, expanding health information exchanges, moving forward to resolve core data infrastructure issues, integrating inpatient and outpatient (especially physician office-based) information systems, making clinicians fully mobile, leveraging the intelligence in clinical IS, locking down data security and privacy, supporting continuous performance improvement, and engaging patients and families-all of these are areas of activity that need to be addressed.

At Healthcare Informatics, we believe that the pressures to move forward in all these areas will be intensifying very quickly. In that regard, we hope the following Top Tech Trends will help our readers move forward with alacrity to accomplish what purchasers and payers are demanding that we all accomplish-and to thrive in these very interesting times.

-The Editors