As we chart a future course for healthcare, let’s think bigger


Angela Jones is a Program Manager in Digital Health Transformation at Booz Allen Hamilton. This article was co-authored with Dr. Kevin Vigilante, Chief Medical Officer at Booz Allen Hamilton.

Over the past two years, health organizations have been preoccupied with responding to the immediate priorities of the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout, they have dramatically accelerated their adoption of telehealth capabilities to circumvent the limitations of in-person physical care imposed by the pandemic. Without realizing it, agencies have taken their first steps into the promising future of smart healthcare.

The confluence of today’s technological advances – in data analytics, digital sensor technologies, 5G networks, artificial intelligence and machine learning, genomic medicine and elsewhere – offers the potential to transform the medicine as we know it.

But equally important is the opportunity to transform today’s visit-based models of care into new paradigms of connected, agile, personalized, and patient-focused care delivery. The result will be a shift from institutional, episodic, disease-focused care to a model that promotes wellness through a longitudinal, holistic view of the patient.

Focused on the immediate and overwhelming needs of the pandemic, many healthcare organizations had no choice but to approach virtual care modernization in real time and in an unplanned fashion. The result is more of a bolt-on capability than an integrated whole that can truly transform healthcare delivery in ways that improve outcomes, reduce costs, reduce health disparities and reimagine the patient experience as a journey. fully evolved and connected care.

By charting a clear vision of the future now – the future we aspire to – we can broaden our ambitions and improve our modernization strategies to better exploit the vast potential offered by today’s technological advances.

The future of healthcare: smart, efficient, connected

So what are some of the aspirational attributes of healthcare we see as we look to the future?

Health care without borders. Telehealth services can overcome geographic and physical barriers by improving access to quality care for patients living in rural and underserved areas, for patients who rely on caregivers for mobility, and for shift workers who have difficulties in accessing care during normal office hours. People need specialized care, no matter where they live and when they need it.

Future systems of care will provide a centralized “digital gateway” with optimized content and access to channels across multiple devices that can give patients the freedom to access care and services in a way that matches their lifestyle. Behind the scenes, a well-architected and integrated network can reduce the information silos that exist today and often divide and isolate information from healthcare providers treating the same patient.

These integrated solutions, which deliver an omnichannel patient experience across the patient journey, can enable healthcare agencies to work from a common operating picture of multiple data sources, mobilizing healthcare teams to quickly deliver the information they need to make “global patient” decisions. .

Proactive, preventive and personalized care through integrated care teams. Future systems of care designed for proactive care management can enable a communication continuum that enables care teams to actively monitor conditions and prevent critical issues.

Biometric sensors can look at trends instead of a single measurement over time, while patient-friendly apps can be used for medication reminders or to schedule follow-up appointments. New team-based care models can be configured, calibrated and personalized based on a patient’s specific and evolving needs and clinical decision support tools can alert care teams to intervene for preventative measures .

The benefits cover the paradigm of care; patients feel empowered in their healthcare, caregivers handle their responsibilities with increased confidence, and providers deliver more holistic patient care by using robust patient-generated data to guide their clinical decisions.

Advanced medicine through analytics. Future healthcare systems will process and analyze vast volumes of data, including patient-generated data, to provide a wider range of information, diagnostic possibilities and treatment options that can advance the condition. of medicine. Disruptive technologies based on smart sensors, AI engines, and augmented reality have the potential to improve quality of care by decreasing adverse events and dramatically reducing disability and death.

Analytics and automation can also reduce administrative burdens, allowing healthcare providers to focus less on administrative demands and more on patient interactions. To maximize the value of this information, it will be essential to integrate these analyzes into healthcare workflows with user-centered design principles.

At the individual level, these capabilities can translate into earlier and potentially more reliable diagnoses and better treatment options. At the broader population level, this can translate into faster, data-driven insights to improve public health and policy decisions.

Some Important Considerations

As we begin to design the healthcare systems of the future, it is important that they are more than the sum of their parts. Technology has great potential to improve care, but it can also create a perception of distance between care providers and their patients.

In other words, not everything should be virtual. We must keep in mind the importance of maintaining the human connection between care provider and patient and appropriately choreograph in-person and virtual encounters.

Solutions must be shaped less by the technologies involved, and more by the needs and challenges they are intended to address. Patients, providers, and staff should remain at the heart of solution design decisions, and virtual care should fit organically into clinical and operational workflows – not be added as an afterthought .

A clear vision and roadmap for enterprise-wide integration will be needed to seamlessly and securely integrate the right innovations into adaptable and sustainable care journeys.

The vision of future health care will differ from agency to agency. But a common key to success, regardless, is whether the agency uses integration as a key pillar of its modernization approach. We’ll explain why an integrative approach is so essential to modernizing healthcare in our next article.


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