The healthcare system continues to be plagued by inefficiencies that impact both cost and quality of care. Technology, however, is changing the way healthcare is delivered, enabling more efficient operations, better physician-patient relationships, and an opportunity for better outcomes and a generally healthier society. At the same time, connected health can help reduce the burden on many healthcare facilities by replacing in-person care with virtual care.
- Up to 20% of emergency department visits could be handled with virtual urgent care
- Almost a quarter of office visits and outpatient care could be done virtually
- Up to 35% of home health services could be virtualized
While shifting care locations from traditional offices and hospitals to virtual locations is part of the connected health value proposition, it is positioned to provide the momentum needed to improve healthcare quality and bridge the gap between reactive and preventative care. New technologies are creating opportunities to positively impact individual patient outcomes and general health trends, while also help providers better manage their patient populations.
Connected health solutions, including video conferencing, store-and-forward, remote patient monitoring and EHRs, can make it easier for physicians to collaborate on patient care and streamline other services. At the same time, physicians can more effectively interact with each other, as needed, to provide the best treatment alternatives to help patients manage or recover from conditions.
Connected health can increase access to specialists as well as primary care providers. By enabling patients to see physicians using telehealth, they can reduce the time and cost of traditional in-person visits, often making it easier to schedule appointments, which can be taken from anywhere. Through better access, providers can reduce missed visits, and even routine care can become less of a burden, increasing the likelihood that patients will make and keep appointments that can help the better manage their health.
Connected health solutions can make it easier for providers to increase touchpoints with patients, keeping them updated on broad health trends as well as individual conditions, including updating them on treatment plans and providing easy access when patients have questions. By leveraging multiple communications channels and providing access to patient records, providers can drive patient engagement and involvement in their own wellness. Increased interaction can also give providers greater insight into a variety of data points that can impact health – and which can be integrated into data sets for population health research.
Connected health tools, like remote patient monitoring, can help deliver earlier diagnoses of potential problems, allowing concerns to be addressed before they become serious issues. Combined with increased patient engagement, physicians can more effectively monitor patient conditions and response to treatment to avoid complications that could lead to hospitalization, or worse. Similarly, artificial intelligence or predictive modeling can help identify emerging trends related to patient populations, conditions, and medications that can help providers react more quickly to trends that could impact patient and population health.
Increased interactions, remote patient monitoring devices, telehealth visits, patient surveys and portals, and other available data sources can quickly build a massive data repository. By adding artificial intelligence to the mix, this information can quickly be analyzed to help diagnose individual patients, as well as for monitoring broader health trends among population groups. This can help providers, pharmaceutical firms, insurers, government agencies, and others to better understand how different treatments, behavioral variances, socioeconomic factors, and other variables impact specific conditions and general health. This data-driven insight can then be used to develop and implement effective population health strategies.
Medical professionals continue to be impacted by high burnout and stress rates, largely driven by administrative tasks, which can also lead to longer hours in an effort to support more patients. By automating data entry and transfer processes, scheduling, reminders, and other traditionally manual tasks, connected health solutions can reduce the administrative burden and allow physicians to treat more patients in a shorter amount of time, which can increase job satisfaction and support better work-life balance.
The healthcare system has traditionally been a reactionary mechanism, focusing on treating, rather than preventing illness. Lack of efficient communication between providers adds to the inefficiency and has created a highly fractured ecosystem. Connected health solutions can help change that by promoting increased collaboration and focusing more heavily on preventative care and positive outcomes. This can reduce the burden on providers and cost of healthcare delivery and ultimately, create greater health awareness and a healthier society.
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