When I walked the show floor at HIMSS17, the largest healthcare IT conference in our nation, it was immediately apparent that “digital” is leading the transformation of healthcare. More than 1,300 vendors, with foundations rooted in technology, advertised their “connected health” or “digital health” solutions. You name it, and it was on view: analytics, artificial intelligence, cloud, augmented reality, Internet of Things, machine learning, even bots.
- Philips advocated “connecting care for continuous health from hospital to home.”
- Allscripts is building open, connected communities of health.
- Medicity is turning data into actionable information to provide “connected care for everyone.”
Is connected health or digital health real or hype? When will we see a modernized healthcare system? And, will there be consolidation of all these point solutions to connect an already fragmented industry? It’s as though the industry were crying for help: “Connect us!”
Leading the Pack
For some organizations, digital health is moving past the hype. According to our recent study, in fact, about one-third of healthcare providers (28%) and payers (34%) think that 20% or more of their revenues originated from digital channels as of 2015. By 2020, these percentages will double, to 69% of healthcare providers and 73% of payers.
Digital is now enabling healthcare to be more connected across the entire ecosystem – from patient to provider to payer to pharmaceutical to medical device company. That’s why popular themes at HIMSS17 centered around how organizations are collecting, analyzing and using data to deliver value-based care, enhance patient engagement, improve patient outcomes, manage population health or remotely monitor patients to drive adherence with care plans.
The reality of connecting and delivering more value for healthcare will take time to mature. Yet, there are leaders like GE Digital and Johns Hopkins illuminating the path. The team is:
- Transforming hospital admissions to discharge workflow into a NASA-like command center.
- Building “digital twins” of patient pathways.
- Creating a wall of analytics that shows custom, real-time predictive analytics for the staff to take the next best action.
According to John Flannery, GE Healthcare’s CEO, at the Minds + Machines 2016 event, “Hopkins is accepting patients 60% faster, and the care teams can see bottlenecks before they come.”
Where to Begin
Given the overwhelming number of solutions, where would a healthcare organization begin its digital journey? Unfortunately, there’s no official digital health “checklist” or “short list” or “playbook” to orchestrate the seemingly complex ecosystem of digital choices.
My advice is to consider connecting with a business system integrator to hear about use cases underway. Or simply search the web to see in which sandbox the industry leaders are playing. A few examples:
- Johns Hopkins chose to focus on the cloud and the predictive analytics capabilities within GE.
- University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston selected cognitive computing and artificial intelligence, but then put the IBM Watson project on hold.
- Kaiser Permanente is using digital and the IoT to make rapid advancements in care delivery to provide a better patient experience.
- Another discipline that is accelerating to a useful marketplace is remote patient monitoring. A Berg Insight report says 7.1 million people are using remote monitoring devices worldwide, and growth will triple over the next few years. Microsoft’s HealthVault and Cognizant’s Remote Patient Monitoring is enabling hospitals to engage with their patients in new ways.
Connecting Digital to Outcomes
No doubt the industry will see more positive change between now and next year, at HIMSS2018. Along with our clients, I’d like to see many of these 1,300 vendors “grab a partner” and bring together the best-of-breed ideas and solutions to drive a more meaningful value proposition and impact to the healthcare industry.
We each can’t do it alone with one-off point solutions. This will require more than a multidisciplinary model. Digital healthcare transformation will succeed with a more fully integrated ecosystem in which all constituents work together.