CTO at Prosource IT – IT Staffing and Management Consulting. Host on Ivy Podcast – Executive Leadership podcast.
Digital transformation initiatives are at the core of many healthcare organizations. 2020 has been a year full of surprises and opportunities that have created innovative ways to solve old problems. The new decade is shaping up to be a transformational period, with several key trends driving the modernization of technology in healthcare.
I lead several strategic initiatives for major healthcare organizations ranging from new electronic health records (EHR) systems to the implementation of robotic process automation (RPA) for revenue cycle management (RCM) operations, and digital transformation in healthcare has been producing results with the most immediate impacts.
Below are some of these trends based on our research and collaborative initiatives with several healthcare companies such as ChenMed, Envision Healthcare and others in South Florida:
Actionable big data. Healthcare data is prevalent, and many companies have allocated significant IT budgets to building data infrastructure with controlled access to the secure and confidential use of patient data. EHR systems can provide a wealth of data to create patterns, trends and predictability models for given health treatment plans. Well-educated patients who have access to their own data can create a shift toward value-based, patient-centered and outcome-driven delivery systems.
Value-based vs. volume-based. Technology can enable but not fully replace the physician-led interactions and coaching methods, especially for the significantly growing segment of the senior population.
ChenMed has created a relationship-based, long-term and continuous partnership between the caring physician and the patient to help initiate value-based care. The company focuses on the senior population (65 and over), which is the most vulnerable segment of all age groups and requires very personal care. This full-risk, value-based care requires a very selective physician recruitment, onboarding and training infrastructure. The company created a “Black Belt training,” which is a nine- to 12-month hands-on training that encompasses the following:
• Behavior change techniques and strategies.
• Motivational interviewing.
• Training on lifestyle with a focus on exercise and diet.
• Selective books and other reading materials on specific diets.
• Heart disease prevention and tactics to reverse it.
• Patient influence and experience.
Another example of the shift to value-based care is Aetna’s introduction of Whole Health plans as well as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ program that rewards hospitals for providing quality care.
Healthcare delivery infrastructure. Physician care and healthcare delivery models are no longer restricted to the confines of hospitals and emergency rooms. Technology can now provide delivery systems for a remote physician to provide guidance to another surgeon. Moreover, physician-patient remote mentoring is now possible through digital technologies. Some hospitals leverage remote patient consultations and video-based care delivery, which could create more convenient access for patients and a streamlined process with a focus on care instead of administrative tasks. The American Hospital Association found that, in 2017, 76% of hospitals were implementing computerized telehealth systems.
Integrated wearable technology. Wearables have become a more widely adopted technology that consumers adopt voluntarily, and the technology that powers these devices goes way beyond traditional fitness tracking. The integration of wearables with EHRs and secure data exchange could create even greater opportunities for preventive action and interoperability between devices.
As far as the evolution of wearable technology, I expect that wearables will transform from fitness-tracking tools to health-oriented devices with more predictable and reliable metrics to help consumers make better decisions. Some practical examples include such devices as the latest models of Apple or Samsung watches that have features for collecting data based on activities such as sleep, movement, exercise and so on.
Tech disruptions by Amazon, Alphabet (Google) and Walmart. Technology and e-commerce giants seem to have a significant interest in improving healthcare. From Amazon Care to Google Health to Walmart’s Primary Care clinic, we are all watching these disruptors very closely for what is next in healthcare transformation.
Advanced APIs and interoperability. Secure and efficient data exchanges are at the core of healthcare delivery as patients receive and will continue receiving care through multiple avenues and channels. Next-generation APIs should ensure proper data exchanges between the EHR systems and devices, which can ultimately lead to more accurate and timely diagnoses and prescription of care. Security is at the core of effective APIs, and innovative healthcare companies that succeed in creating secure and compliant integrations between the systems should be in a better position to provide advanced care.
According to a recent report from Accenture on HIT, investments into social, mobile, analytics and cloud (SMAC) have been increasing, with no distinct delineation between digital and nondigital: “There is no longer a separation of digital and nondigital. The future will be about full adoption of SMAC and embracing new technologies to transform outcomes and ultimately change lives.”