The U.S. healthcare system has been under fire for its inefficiency and costs. A big part of the inability to make significant inroads is the slow rate of adoption of new technology and tools that are driving greater collaboration, cost savings, and efficiency in other industries.
These technologies, though, bring the promise of a digital transformation of the healthcare system and creating new opportunities for better, more accessible, and more efficient healthcare models, which can ultimately deliver better patient outcomes. The increased use of digital healthcare tools will pave the way for a new era of healthcare, as they continue to be accepted and adopted by providers and patients.
There are more than 250 million adults in America, and 21% of them use activity trackers or smart watches. There are also countless other healthcare-specific devices that are used to track patient health, both remotely and in-person. Aggregating the data from these devices, medical records, and other sources would create a massive data pool that could be used by researchers, physicians, drug and medical device developers, and others in the industry to create effective, evidence-driven products and treatments. The more data that is available, the more impactful new products can be.
AI has been emerging in many business sectors and is helping add efficiency and accuracy to processes. The healthcare industry can leverage artificial intelligence to more rapidly analyze patient conditions and compare symptoms to large data pools to quickly provide data-driven analyses, treatment recommendations, and other information to physicians. On a broader scale, it can also help identify trends in health conditions across patient populations to support population health initiatives, identify potential disease outbreaks at early stages, and provide other information to help providers and government agencies more effectively manage individual and population group health.
Natural Language Processing
Natural Language Processing (NLP), a form of AI that enables spoken or typed comments and questions to be understood by computers, can build greater efficiency into healthcare processes. Speech- or text-enabled patient portals, for instance, can help patients more easily get information from their providers without involving live staff. NLP-enabled transcription can make it easier and faster for physicians to update patient records by speaking their notes, comments, and recommendations into the system, rather than manually typing them. Automating these functions can reduce the administrative burden on staff and doctors and help reduce the stress medical professionals are under.
Remote Patient Monitoring
In addition to supporting data-driven healthcare, remote patient monitoring devices can help physicians better understand patient conditions through regular – often real-time – data. That enables them to more rapidly intervene as patient conditions change, and to understand the effectiveness of treatment plans and modify them as needed. For patients, it means they are able to provide the information to their doctors – multiple specialists, if needed – regularly, without the need to constantly schedule in-person appointments at doctors’ offices or with traveling nurses. That could also drive cost savings for both providers and patients.
Virtual Visits and Consultations
If anything, the past six months have shown that telehealth is a viable option for many care needs. In addition to making healthcare more accessible and convenient, it can allow physicians and specialists to collaborate easily when reviewing patient conditions, progress, and treatment options. Combined with remote patient monitoring and other digital healthcare tools, virtual care can help increase patient capacity for physicians, and allow them to dedicate office visits to patients whose conditions require them.
As a growing number of patients and providers learn to overcome barriers to adoption of these technologies, digital healthcare for patient engagement will have an opportunity to become the norm, rather than an outlier that has seen temporary usage increases. As these and other connected health tools become routine, and as providers continue to experience their benefits, they will hopefully be able to reduce the burden the healthcare system as a whole is under.
To learn more about the digital tools that are poised to transform healthcare, connect with us here.