If there is one thing that emerged out of the pandemic and its impact on healthcare, it’s the expansion of technology on healthcare services. With experts projecting health spending to reach almost six trillion dollars by 2026, the need for healthcare innovations is timely as health care providers look for ways to innovate patient services, expand their practices, and control overhead costs. It seems leveraging digital health technologies has been a strategic move.
When the five major components of healthcare—payor, provider, pharma, med-tech, and life sciences—work together to provide a seamless patient experience, they create a transformative foundation to build a new digitally-based and mutually beneficial ecosystem that consolidates data, creates intelligent workflow processes, and provides an easy system for task distribution over time.
Let’s examine how these five players in the healthcare process use medical technology to improve patient care.
The desire for patient-centered, value-based care and a more streamlined workflow process paved the way for digital patient records and self-service patient portals, two major players in digital healthcare technology.
Electronic Health Record (EHR) provides collaborative services between providers and insurance companies, virtually eliminates data errors, quickens the distribution of real-time data, and limits access to patient information through authorized users.
Patient Portals. Salesforce research found that 88 percent of us believe it’s “very important or somewhat important” to have easy access to health records and data. Patient portals like those available through Health Cloud offer patients 24-hour access to their personal information, test results, medical history, x-rays, articles, and other educational materials, and options to schedule non-urgent follow-up appointments with their healthcare provider.
Today’s healthcare providers face a triple threat in the current state of American healthcare.
“A combination of escalating costs, an aging population, and rising chronic healthcare conditions that account for 75 percent of the nation’s healthcare costs paint a bleak picture of the current state of American healthcare,” report researchers Nicol Turner Lee, Jack Karsten, and Jordan Roberts.
But when the pandemic forced doctors to shut the door on traditional care practices, telehealth services came knocking with innovative plans to remedy those challenges and become a powerful solution in the new healthcare services model.
Paired with digital patient information and telehealth services, physicians servicing rural areas can connect with patients, they can access expertise from specialists practicing anywhere in the world, and they can optimize valuable time with routine patient visits without requiring the patient to leave their homes.
A recent Harris Poll found that 54 percent of respondents liked the idea of telehealth services for their primary care, and almost 70 percent of healthcare providers are motivated to expand their telehealth services because of the experiences they encountered during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Experts predict that end-user spending on wearable devices will reach $81.5 billion by the end of 2021. “Ear-worn devices and smartwatches are seeing particularly robust growth as consumers rely on these devices for remote work, fitness activities, health tracking and more,” explains Ranjit Atwal, senior research director at Gartner.
Such growth provides both profitable and personalized opportunities for physicians since digital wearables reduce the need to schedule appointments to physically monitor and check vitals yet increase the opportunity for doctors to monitor a patient’s condition and interact with that patient.
“The advent of wearables and sensors is empowering these kinds of patient relationships,” says Derek Carless. “Providers track progress and ingest the data from every interaction to ensure compliance and accountability. They can use the data to make more intelligent personalized care decisions that improve outcomes and experiences.”
On a macro level, the data collected from wearable devices can potentially serve a broader purpose by providing valuable data for pharmaceutical research and development.
We recently witnessed the largest clinical trial in history, with the largest COVID-19 testing groups tallying just under 70,000 participants. But, with the exception of the COVID-19 vaccine, R&D clinical trial studies took a beating over this past year.
“Even before the pandemic, the pharmaceutical industry was seeing diminishing returns on face-to-face interactions with healthcare providers,” says Jennifer Turcotte, adding that trials require close contact with physician and patient communities. “Without the right digital infrastructure in place, we risk bringing crucial drugs to market for patients who need them most.”
Data from a clinical trial with 70,000 participants is impressive. But consider this: Fitbit has sold over 100 million devices around the world with 28 million active users. That’s 28 million daily heart rates, fitness profiles, vitals, etc. from all over the world. Pretty heady, eh?
Now is the time for a digital integration that not only provides basic automated capabilities but creates a competitive advantage. “For instance, certain technology platforms that integrate directly into a physician’s existing electronic medical record platform may enable care providers to view prescription costs, potential gaps in care, eligibility and patient health history in near real-time and potentially obtain prior authorization before the patient leaves the exam room,” says Donna O’Shea, MD.
There is little doubt that technology has disrupted healthcare as we reimagine the role med-tech plays in the evolving patient care arena. “We now have an opportunity to not only help the healthcare industry do well and do good, but can revolutionize the way teams across all healthcare and life sciences disciplines communicate, collaborate, and build stronger relationships with patients, members, and partners across the entire ecosystem,” says Mike Luessi.