Guest post by Ali Din is GM and CMO, dinCloud.
Like retail and education before it, a major shift is underway in the healthcare industry that is putting power back in consumers’ hands. Similar to how retail outlets are delivering custom experiences based on consumer preferences, or how there is more attention to individual needs in the classroom, patients are able to play a more active role in their healthcare administration and decision-making than ever before. This means participating in a shared decision-making model with physicians, seeing their needs and preferences reflected in the course of their treatment, and easier access to their medical data, made readily available to both the patient and his or her medical team.
Patient centered care (also referred to as PCC), patient empowerment, patient participation, and shared decision making are all terms used to describe this phenomenon. While the reach of PCC is still expanding, its benefits are clear. As stated by PwC in its “Top Health Industry Issues of 2016” report, and reported by Fierce Healthcare, “care will begin to move into the palms of consumers’ hands.” Going further, a Health Affairs blog states that, “it is well established now that one can in fact improve the quality of health care and reduce the costs at the same time.”
This article will explore the phenomenon that is PCC, a paradigm shift changing the healthcare industry at its core. So much so, PCC is driving adoption of three technology related trends that are in line with its principles. They include: telemedicine, cloud computing and mHealth.
Patient Centered Care and 2016 Healthcare IT Trends
While many assumed in-facility care would remain the norm after house calls faded from popularity decades ago, that may not be the case. Increasingly, telemedicine — or remote consultations, diagnoses, and treatment performed by medical professionals — is becoming a standard practice in the healthcare industry.
For example, the below ad from Anthem BlueCross and LiveHealth Online was released by one of the nation’s largest insurance agencies promoting remote consultations states the “doctor is always in” and sessions are “quick and easy with no appointments and no driving.”
In line with the principles of PCC, telehealth promises greater access to care for patients who don’t live in close proximity to a healthcare facility. For the greater population, telehealth offers convenience and the comfort of care delivered in a patient’s natural environment. Administering care in a patient’s environment instead of a traditional healthcare setting can also facilitate better care in some cases. Fierce Healthcare provides the example of blood pressure screening – taking a patient’s blood pressure in a natural setting, like their home or workplace, may more accurately reflect their blood pressure on a daily basis.
Telehealth and the benefits this practice offers to patients are perfectly in line with the patient-centric approach favored today. In light of this, it wouldn’t be surprising if telemedicine adoption continues to rise in the coming years, along with the demand for technology that can facilitate remote care.
Similar to telehealth, mHealth is another technology trend that’s changing how and where care is administered. It describes care supported by mobile devices. Previously, care was somewhat limited by the mobility of medical equipment, but with the advent of tablets and mobile phones, healthcare practitioners and patients can access some medical data and applications from the device of their choice. This provides greater flexibility at the point of care and also allows the patient to directly engage with apps like patient monitoring.
Cloud Adoption in Healthcare
What telehealth and mHealth have in common is the need for interfaces and technology to support it. While cloud technology is already prevalent in the healthcare industry, it’s an ideal platform for organizations looking to adopt these practices. As a provider of virtual workspaces, we see a great use case among healthcare practitioners looking to modernize. Virtual workspaces allow users to access their data, applications, and an entire virtual workspace from multiple devices. For example, healthcare workers could use a virtual workspace to administer care from any site, whether the patient is virtual in a telehealth scenario, or on-site at the point-of care.
As for the healthcare security concerns, rigorous security measures are available that can help keep healthcare organizations retain HIPAA compliance.
Like patient centered care, cloud technology can prove to be fundamental to today’s healthcare practices. Telehealth and mHealth are just two of the practices that can be supported by cloud. So, as long as patient centered care remains the standard in U.S. medicine, expect to see healthcare organizations putting power back in patients’ hands and their data in the cloud.