They say that predicting the future is a fool’s game, and I tend to agree, but that won’t stop me from gazing into my crystal ball to foretell what some of the big digital practice headlines and stories may be in 2018.

Alexa, Re-order my Retin-A STAT

Amazon’s Alexa, the e-voice concierge that powers Amazon’s Echo smart speaker, allows us to play music, ask questions, check the weather, and order sundries on demand, and now we can access our health records and find savings on prescriptions with this voice assistant. New York’s Northwell Health introduced an Alexa skill aimed at helping patients find and use its urgent care center. And this is just the beginning for Alexa as a healthcare tool. Rumor has it Amazon is adding capabilities like appointment and medication reminders.

Digital Fool’s Gold Rush?

There’s Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum, Zcash, Dash, Ripple, and Monero, and no these aren’t Star Wars characters. They are some of the bigger players in the cryptocurrency market today. Cryptocurrency is a digital currency that uses cryptography for security with a controlled supply limited by the network. It’s controversial, to say the least, as this currency is not backed by any government entity. That isn’t stopping many from jumping in head first. A NYC-based plastic surgery group recently started accepting cryptocurrency for procedures. Cryptocurrency involves the use of block chain technology, which has been called “the invisible technology that is changing the world.” It’s a digitized, decentralized, public ledger of all cryptocurrency transactions. Everyone in the network can see this shared transaction ledger. Only fools rush in. This may well be the wave of the future, although the cryptocurrency market is tumbling as I write this.

Amazon Disrupts Healthcare

Amazon will likely get into the scripts business and upend it just, as it did every other vertical the online retail giant has touched. Tech will start automating precriptions, and shoppers will be able to add medications to everything else in their carts.

The Doctor Is In … The Back

CVS, the largest pharmacy chain in the US, scooped up Aetna for $69 billion. Your local CVS may become a one stop-shop for medications and healthcare, and we may even see telehealth stations pop up at these hubs so that patients can receive specialty care, general healthcare, vaccines, and the like.

Clinical Trials 4.0

Wearables and smart phones are here to stay and will soon change the way we collect data for clinical trials. This has a lot of pluses, from getting more physicians involved in research and improving upon patient recruitment methods to making it more convenient for patients to take part, which may mean more data, better compliance, and fewer participants lost to follow-up.

Healthcare Top Cyberattack Target

“Uh oh!” is right! Ransomware attacks against healthcare organizations will double by 2018, according to “IDC FutureScape: Worldwide Healthcare IT 2017 Predictions.” This is a downside of all of the technology and innovation that allows us to share our health information via the Internet of things, EHRs and wearable devices.

Dermatologist Burnout Extinguished

Dermatologist burnout is at an all-time high, but perhaps the tide is changing. More doctors are talking about burnout and its consequences. From making meaningful changes at work to carving out time for themselves, dermatologists will take back their lives and livelihoods in coming years

Mark D. Kaufmann, MD is an associate Clinical Professor of dermatology Dept of Dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City.