By George Mathew, chief medical officer, North America, DXC Technology.
Consumer technology has given rise to 21st century digital citizens who are reinventing their lifestyles ? one smart device at a time. They are also reinventing healthcare.
The 21st century digital citizen monitors their daily calorie intake, sleep patterns and heart rate during exercise. They have used a DNA testing service to access their genetic information, and they know their risk level for conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease or cancer. They have become empowered consumers of healthcare.
Healthcare organizations are exploring ways to capture this new wave of patient-generated data, integrate it with other clinical and non-clinical data sources and gain insights into improving health management for individuals and populations. The key will be to create a digital foundation that can radically improve data flow and deliver contextual, actionable insights across the entire healthcare ecosystem.
21st Century Outcomes
Consumerization has made it possible to get a more complete picture of what patients need to better manage their health, and to provide care beyond the walls of a hospital or clinic. Insights can be gleaned from a variety of internet of things (IoT) devices ? from cameras linked to video analytics systems to assess people’s behaviors, to communication and conversational artificial intelligence (AI) devices that can interact with patients in their homes.
Consider what this means for patients who are managing a chronic condition such as diabetes or hypertension. Those individuals receive advice when they visit their doctor or nurse practitioner. But how can providers keep patient engagement going between those visits? Now, after garnering the appropriate approvals, providers can use patient-generated data and virtual health services to monitor patients and ensure they have the information needed for their care without requiring an office visit. Increased interactions between practitioners and patients helps to increase engagement, which is often difficult to achieve between visits. Better-engaged patients will positively impact patient satisfaction scores — a key consideration in the value-based care system.
Additionally, collecting more types of data enables organizations to better understand the dynamics of the entire population. Patients with similar profiles can be identified, successful care paths can be determined, and emerging patterns can be recognized to help in finding the most effective interventions. And, healthier populations will result in less expense to the healthcare system overall.
Re-imagining Digital Health Platforms
As healthcare and life sciences organizations begin to acquire patient insights from multiple sources, they will seek ways to modernize workflows, processes and technology platforms in ways that allow them to make timely decisions. This also means improving the coordination of care across all aspects of healthcare — practitioners, payers and the life sciences industries — to deliver insights that can help with prediction and personalized treatment.
The electronic health record will evolve into a single view of the patient’s history that connects disparate data sources in a controlled and secure way. This technology will include powerful analytics engines that can transform structured and unstructured patient data into clinical insights, along with AI and machine learning to enable hyper-dimensional information correlations. The technology may also include applications that push contextually relevant information and notifications to care teams, and patient engagement tools such as AI-enabled chat bots that help with symptom checking, virtual consult, scheduling, wayfinding and care coordination in a vendor- and technology-agnostic workflow.
By allowing access to cross-sector datasets in a vendor-neutral way, organizations can achieve maximum value from their information systems. Tomorrow’s systems will rely on interoperability among devices, doctors, patients and other stakeholders across the care continuum to enable a truly connected healthcare ecosystem.
The consumerization of healthcare can bring new insight to patient care, population health, chronic disease management and the research community. Advanced technologies for managing personal health are reaching consumers faster and faster, with far-reaching implications for the 2020s. The way forward will challenge healthcare and life sciences organizations to apply advanced technologies as well, and to create integrated information systems that drive better outcomes for 21st century digital citizens.