“Is it online?” is the most frequently asked question in the digital age, overtaking “Google it.”
With Siri and Alexa already well-established in the tech world, there will be an increasing demand for such personalized services. Indeed, 2019 has the potential to see an explosion of smart assistants in the delivery of healthcare.
Digitization will be full blown in 2019, with all predictions pointing to Artificial Intelligence (AI) to cut across different healthcare workflows, from analyzing data of patients, to supporting physician decisions to interacting directly with patients.
Here are four New Year resolutions I predict Healthcare will make in 2019 where AI and digital solutions will play a part:
1. Quantitative and Qualitative Data
Beyond the collection and collation of patient data, AI applications will significantly improve the speed and accuracy in managing these electronic records online and registration services. Through AI, patient data from connected platforms and medical apps or devices – quantitative data, and patient reported outcomes – qualitative data, can be processed to give a holistic view of the patient, creating a 3D data fingerprint unique to them.
The ability to analyze and survey data quickly and accurately will mean faster and better diagnoses by doctors. AI tools such as predictive modelling, will facilitate this improved process, allowing more effective management of patients by helping provide clinicians additional insight.
Electronic health record systems (EHR) will also see transformation in 2019. From populating data of patients’ medical history, demographics, laboratory results, diagnoses, etc., AI will transform those digital records into a valuable statistical resources on which to draw new insight.
From those EHRs, AI will be able to support doctors and patients by generating patient relevant notifications/warnings, suggested interventions and medical reminders when a patient needs new medical examinations or procedures.
2. Workflow Automation and Patient Optimization
Needless/redundant paperwork is out and automation is in. Doctors and medical staff will use digital solutions to perform repetitive tasks like routine paperwork, scheduling, and time-sheet entry. But AI will do more than just managing doctor appointments, scheduling surgeries, or offering registration services online - it will play an interactive part in complete patient engagement and health continuum.
To fully realize the Perioperative Surgical Home, a patient-centric and team-based interactive communications platform for surgical population management will be indispensable. The complex care of a surgical patient – before, during and after the surgery - involves a coordination of the care team. This workflow will require a lot of engagement with the patient, which is where automation will provide the most effective solution.
As healthcare moves away from a traditional volume based fee-for-service model to a value-based reimbursement model, the result will be improved patient outcomes. Risk-stratifying, and pre-optimizing the patient, are value added services that health technology can deliver from an interactive patient engagement platform.
Source: Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society
3. Platforms: Connecting mHealth and Wearables
In a recent Frost survey, 80% of respondents from the healthcare industry believed that mobile health apps and wearable technologies are the game changers in 2019.
Trending will be devices that monitor at-risk patients, help manage their medication to help clinicians to monitor patients at home or on the go. Measuring glucose level, blood pressures, or heart-rate through these connected devices will be essential tools for patient care.
RFID, smart sensors, and other connected devices will be leveraged to collect and remotely monitor patients, and they can also be set to give important reminders and alerts.
“During 2019, the application of digital health will continue to go far beyond the traditional system and empower individuals to be able to manage their own health. Based on our estimates, it is expected that digital health tech catering to out of hospital settings will grow by 30% to cross $25 billion market globally by end of 2019.” - Forbes
The need to connect these disparate and growing means of data collection and for the data to aggregate/analyze in a single “location” is key to the use and effectiveness of these individual tools. All calling to the need of a platform connecting not only with the devices but the EHR’s as well.
4. Population Monitoring/Telehealth
Telehealth in 2019 will be driven mainly by increasing cost burden from chronic health conditions and aging population,” according to Forbes’ “Top 8 Healthcare Predictions for 2018.”
But for clinicians, the use of telehealth solutions and platforms will be further pushed by the expanding health reimbursement policies covering relevant clinical telehealth services. Already, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has set out the rules and payment codes for physician fees in 2019 associated with the use of telehealth or telemedicine.
The expansion includes the establishment of a separate payment for virtual check-in visits. This follows the innovations in health technology that have transformed clinical practice in the commercial market.
The American Society of Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine (ASRA) has recommended that CMS permit multiple types of communication technology for conducting virtual visits, including email, telephone, Skype, and videoconference solutions.
In its current format as defined by CMS, “telemedicine” enables video calls over the internet between physician and patients, especially those in remote areas for consultations. But innovations in telemedicine already provide additional technology to treat and monitor chronic conditions.
While voice-enabled technologies are still limited to services as medical scribes and transcriptionists, its use can evolve to usage in vetting clinical cases such as elderly care, chronic condition management, or act as a physician’s assistant.
As predicted, throughout 2019, HIPAA-compliant voice and chatbot type applications for healthcare will gain prominence.
The cost-effectiveness and efficiencies of these telemedicine solutions will be the push factor for clinicians adopting this technology. And where telehealth/telemedicine are event based, as communication and related technologies evolve, the definitions need to evolve reflecting the shift and value of monitoring
The journey towards optimal health care management in the digital world has begun. In 2019, healthcare’s resolution for a more data driven, personalized, patient-centric healthcare system will be met by digital solutions.
By assisting both clinicians and their patients achieve life-changing health goals, digital health devices and platforms in 2019 are the disruptors that will continue to transform patient care.