Given the challenges the U.S. healthcare system faces, there is a need to innovate the way healthcare is delivered.  The high cost of care, a shortage of physicians, an aging population, an increase in chronic disease cases, and a younger, digital-first workforce all point to the need for providers to evolve their practices.  Today’s digital, connected world offers an opportunity to leverage technology and improve care delivery, efficiency, and quality, helping address many of the challenges the industry faces.

Innovations in healthcare IT provide the technology backdrop to create more efficient workflows, maximize physicians’ time, drive better patient experiences, reduce errors, lower costs, and help create healthier patient populations.

While much of it is supported by a network infrastructure that connects us all today, wherever we are, these innovations require providers to take a fundamentally new view on the way to deliver healthcare and engage with patients.  An office-based model that was successful for generations may no longer be capable of meeting the needs of the population.

Healthcare practices must evolve, and to do it, they must embrace connected health applications and services, including:

  • Telehealth
  • Remote patient monitoring
  • Electronic Medical Records
  • Wearable tech
  • Store and forward
  • Patient portals
  • Mobile and web apps
  • Web chat, IM, and email
  • AI and analytics

By shifting to digital-first strategies built on these features and services, physicians can deliver on the vision of a modern, patient-centric, efficient healthcare system driven by several trends.

Big Data

One of the biggest change drivers is the massive amount of data generated today.  From patient portals and EHRs to RPM devices and wearable tech, digital applications and services collect volumes of patient data.  This information can be aggregated with information from other patient populations to allow providers to discover new health trends, predict treatment impacts, and identify at-risk patients.  Individual patients can receive more impactful treatment plans based on bigger data sets – as opposed to the experiences of their PCP.  When combined with broader social, economic, geographic, and other data, predictive and preventative care models can become even more specific and accurate.

On-demand Healthcare

Patients want healthcare on their terms; they want to see doctors when and where it’s convenient for them.  That includes younger patients who are part of an always connected generation as much as the elderly, who may prefer to age – and have treatment – in the comfort of their own homes.  Telehealth, RPM, and AI all combine to enable patients to benefit from virtual care, allowing them to receive consultation, treatment, and ongoing care wherever they are, whenever they need it.

New Reach

With digital healthcare technology, practices have a new opportunity to expand their reach beyond their traditional patient base, into new populations with telehealth services.  Existing patients also will be able to contact their PCPs, regardless of where they are – such as from vacation or a business trip – rather than seeing local physicians, generating revenue and building doctor-patient relationships.  Specialists can also benefit by offering services directly to patients, but also through collaboration and consultations with other physicians and their patients.

Supply vs. Demand

One of the biggest challenges the healthcare system faces today is a lack of balance between supply and demand.  The demand for healthcare services is increasing, yet there is already a shortage of physicians that is only expected to grow.  Artificial intelligence has the potential to reduce the burden on physicians, providing automated tools to enable physicians to treat patients faster and with better results, and allowing doctors to spend more time with patients.  AI may be able to cover 20% of physician demand that is currently unmet.  Unlike physicians, the number of PAs and APRNs is expected to increase, and AI models may be able to leverage their skills to treat patients based on algorithmically defined protocols, further reducing the burden on physicians.

Financial Models

The ability to offer new services and impact new patient groups offers providers new revenue potential.  While telehealth and RPM can reduce the number of office visits, patients and doctors are able to interact more frequently and conveniently, shifting the financial scheme to a volume model.  As providers continue to evolve and adopt value-based care principles, their compensation will be predicated on positive outcomes, which are supported by connected health.  There is also a fundamental cost saving component to connected health.  Then, there’s also a basic cost reduction case:  Artificial intelligence is projected to save the healthcare system $150 billion annually by 2026, and reports suggest these technologies could cut treatment costs in half.

Doctors get into their profession for a fundamental reason – they want to help people.  Today’s healthcare environment is largely preventing them from excelling at that.  Connected health offers several opportunities to relieve the burden on the system, ensuring patients are able to receive the care and treatment they need, while leveraging the technology they use every day.

To find out more about why connected healthcare is a win-win opportunity, visit us here.

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