How to initiate an intelligent healthcare transformation.

I recently gave a keynote speech at the Nordic Mobile Health Technology Congress in Stockholm. Addressing clinicians, a health and social care workforce, policy makers and technology providers, I spoke about how the next waves of healthcare transformation ought to be implemented - laying out in more detail the ecosystem in which Intel participates, the ongoing business challenges that still need addressing, and the six pillars of a transformed digital healthcare industry.

It’s the third meet for the Mobile Health Technology Congress, a world leading event for the mobile health (mHealth) community, offering attendees the opportunity and platform to examine how the sector can deliver on patient experience and health outcome improvement, whilst reducing the cost of care.

Healthcare Business Challenges

Globally, healthcare is shifting towards a value-based model (vs. fee based), and while the rate of change varies by country and region, the overall shift is happening at an incredibly fast rate – and it has to. Patient experience, engagement and quality of care have become the main focus for the sector’s stakeholders, enabling an industry-wide pivot to improve outcomes and access while reducing costs. Indeed, 72% of healthcare organisations report that consumer considerations will have a major impact on their strategic efforts over the next two years.

The transition from traditional “in-person” care to “virtual” care delivered via mobile and telemedicine interfaces represents one of the larger industry-wide pivots, and expands the opportunity for a wide range of technological solutions to many healthcare challenges.

There are three trends driving the healthcare sector towards these digital solutions:

  1. Aging populations:5% of global population is over 65 in 2016, and this segment is growing faster as fertility rates drop and life expectancy increases – elder populations will double by 2050.
  2. Shortage of clinicians: there is a 7.2 million worker deficit of clinicians worldwide, which is predicted to grow to 12.9 million by 2035.
  3. Mobility market expansion: the mobility solutions market is expected to reach $84 billion by 2020 with a key focus on patient care and administration – more people today access the internet via mobile devices than desktop PCs – a dramatic crossover point reached just this year.

As these three factors converge to spur technological innovation, there will be some very real benefits accrued to both patients and clinicians through this digital transformation.

First, medical errors will take 3 million lives worldwide this year. This is an astonishing figure, especially considering that 1 in every 25 deaths is preventable, with principle problems being attributed to poor clinical monitoring, diagnostic errors, and inadequate drug or fluid management – digitizing those workflows can reduce errors and save lives. Next, the cost of quality and safety issues affects thousands of hospitals, meaning resources and time are spent on penalties instead of care – technical solutions can better monitor both hospital systems and patients – leading to improved disinfection adherence and reductions in hospital acquired infections. Finally, and most critically, healthcare has some of the highest data breach costs per capita of any industry – breaches cost the US alone $1.6 billion in 2014. As providers move towards greater adoption of IT systems there are more security tools available to mitigate potential security breaches.

An Intelligent Evolution

With all of these trends and factors vying for attention, and in need of innovation, it becomes clear that healthcare is unsustainable without change, now. Healthcare transformation has to evolve intelligently, in my opinion, and that begins by looking at macro-scale care.

It may sound counterintuitive, but population-level insights will help drive better precision medicine at the individual level, which is critical to the improvement of care quality.

So how does that work? Well, there are several steps in the approach to utilizing population health data to improving health in a community. Start by defining a population segment that has common diseases, require similar treatment, and identify any gaps in care or focus.  Stratify the risks associated with each patient within the segment, then identify ways to engage patients in discussion about their care plans, as well as their adherence and experiences on a regular basis, and ultimately on their views of the quality of care they receive. Finally, manage that care continuously, measuring the outcomes, adjusting protocols as needed, and using those insights with new and existing patients to improve the quality of outcomes.

By using population level insights to manage care new models of care delivery can be enabled and adopted even faster. As it stands, the global tele-healthcare market is set to expand twentyfold between 2013 and 2018, expanding from 350,000 patients to 7 million. This sort of virtual care delivery is not only possible – it is demanded by patients. For consumers/patients who have already adopted the use of mobile technologies in their daily lives, the use of mobile and/or virtual delivery methods is a very acceptable and welcomed improvement to their experience in receiving and using healthcare services. Most parents would prefer to get a prescription over the phone than drive a sick child 15 miles to the doctor’s office get the same answer!

The Promises of Transformation

I believe healthcare outcomes are set to be revolutionised based on the promises of the above solutions – and by the convergence of digital workflows with traditional methods of care delivery

These six pillars of a digital transformation include – the use of data-driven clinical and operational decision making to improve prognosis and research; deploying virtual and smart (IoT based) solutions like telemedicine to improve quality and access to care; enable on-demand care-as-a-service via a secure cloud to reduce IT and Op-Ex costs; design in security from the bottom up - trusted security practices should reduce business risk and protect patient data; engage and delight patients with great customer experiences - those providers who deliver personalised experiences are up to 50% more profitable, and they extend the care to family and social  community members of the care team; provide a modern workplace for the next generation of health workers – these new digital technologies are critical to  fostering an engaged and innovative workforce, through collaborative and agile working methods. Transforming healthcare is a critical mission for a population faced with these wide ranging challenges.

Practical Examples of Transformation

There are now many emerging examples of healthcare transformation in practice, from creating a distributed care packages to supporting independent living for the elderly and/or vulnerable, to predictive analytics such as SAP Connected Health, Oracle Healthcare Foundation and Cerner HealthIntent.

Specific Intel initiatives to note are our IoT plans for the sector:

  • Enabling new medical and wearable devices
  • Enhancing interoperability and scalability
  • Optimizing remote monitoring
  • Empowering analytics for all aspects of clinical and community optimized care
  • Boosting security and privacy for the sector

Intel also supports collaborative care best practices, accompanied by Google Glass with voice-based access, outbound streaming, conferencing, and recording for training purposes. Using such technology, Tokyo Women’s Medical University implemented an intelligent operating theatre, with hands-free gesture control of PACs, and shared data screens across their enterprise from any computer. Furthermore, our plans for an integrated digital hospital include a scalable breadth of innovation within healthcare, utilizing everything we have learnt about quality care and patient experience.

These initiatives, and more, put into practice everything the sector and Intel is learning about technology, data, patient engagement, quality diagnostics, and a more aligned workforce, to further the pursuit of an intelligent healthcare transformation to a value-based model.

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