As the healthcare debate rages across the political spectrum, those in the industry must determine how we can continue improving the quality of care and reshaping the future of medicine while simultaneously making those solutions affordable for the consumer and of low cost for the provider.
The answer to this seemingly impossible problem lies within changing the entire infrastructure around healthcare, taking the currently separated bodies that work autonomously in their own section of the field and adjoining them together around one central entity: the patient.
The rise of the a new, data-driven era in technology is what allows this dramatic change to unfold. Artificial intelligence, connected and interoperable systems, and massive wells of data being shared collectively will shift the landscape of how we approach medicine. Healthcare providers who can undergo the digital transformation alongside the rest of the world will be the ones who are delivering the best outcomes for themselves, their patients, and all other parties in the spokes of the health wheel.
The transformation of the industry has already begun, and the first step is a personalized, 24/7 data stream coming from every person who wants it. Personal health devices and monitors can track everything from steps walked in a day to resting heartbeat at night, and they’re only improving. As the years pass, this technology will become less invasive and more diverse in its range of uses and abilities, making us able to both maximize our well-being and stay healthy as much as possible while also sniffing out sickness and diseases even before symptoms begin to show.
Simultaneously, as data becomes more available and we continue to improve in the field of genome sequencing, doctors will work almost entirely on preventing diseases rather than curing them. Bloodwork and skin samples won’t just be used to determine if a patient has an illness that moment; it will be used to determine if they’re genetically more likely to get one. Should that predisposition exist, the patient will then be given an infusion of cells engineered to fight off the possibility of a rash of cancerous cells.
This shift will both make healthcare more effective and more accessible. Anyone will be able to have a complete summary of their current health information at their fingertips, on their smartphone, and ready to send in full to their doctor should they see something they want checked out. The system will be on 24/7, tracking consumer health and ready to alert the doctor on its own should an emergency arise.
As well, on the provider side, digital platforms can create more opportune outcomes and lower costs by more thoroughly displaying the true value of a drug or procedure to hospitals and insurance companies. Demonstrating the true cost of a treatment in the real world, factoring in variables such as time needed to diagnose, time spend in hospital beds, and the patient’s quality of life post-treatment, grants better outcomes for the patient and healthcare provider, as well as transparency in the decisions that are being made about which solutions to pursue and which to take back to the drawing board. Data-driven insights thus improve the lives of those receiving the treatments while making the companies that provide them more efficient in their delivery, and thus more profitable.
As we get closer to this dawn of a new age in medicine, the onus lies on those in the industry to take the reins and steer everyone in the right direction. Already there are so many methods and practices that leaders in healthcare can institute that can act as the next step toward revolutionizing medicine as we know it.
• Develop apps that can report data in real time from patients to their doctors
• Forge partnerships with large tech companies who can assist in innovation
• Shift focus away from the hospital and onto the consumers and their needs
• Utilize machine learning and RPA to search the internet for opinions on drugs form those who have actually used them
Enabling doctors with the best resources available, granting patients the freedom to be as involved with their own health and care as they choose, finding the most effective outcomes for pharmaceutical companies, and showing insurance providers how to both maximize their services and minimize their costs is a lofty goal but one that is completely achievable through digital transformation. Should we continue our rapid progress in that area, healthcare as we know it may soon be dramatically different, or even replaced entirely.