Digital Healthcare is Transforming our Industry but Patient Care...

Digital Healthcare is Transforming our Industry but Patient Care Remains the Key

By Michael Reagin, SVP, Chief Information & Innovation Officer, Sentara Healthcare

Michael Reagin, SVP, Chief Information & Innovation Officer, Sentara Healthcare

It is no secret the digital era is transforming healthcare delivery. However, the key to making a meaningful impact on patients in this digital revolution is personalizing their experience and simplifying access to health and wellness services.

The current healthcare landscape is a highly fragmented environment; it is complex, non-standard, and imperfect. Product innovators, payers, providers, and policy makers have different incentives and are not aligned to help reduce the complexity. Some progress has been made towards integration, which was focused on managing the health of defined populations. Nevertheless, true healthcare transformation will come through a customer-centric approach; one where customers are at the “hub” of a broader healthcare ecosystem. This is where technology has the opportunity to provide frictionless interactions to help reduce the complexity and fragmentation of navigating the healthcare environment for customers.

This healthcare “ecosystem” will be successful if built for scale and partnerships across the care continuum, allowing room to leverage the innovations and strengths of contributing partners. Technology will allow for a fundamental shift in the health systems’ identity towards becoming orchestrators of health, risk, and lifestyle choices for consumers in new markets. It will also play a major role in closing the gap among all players in healthcare services.

Digital transformation is fully underway in several other industries, from banking, retail, and travel, and there is consumer demand for having these types of engagement capabilities for their health and well-being. The explosion of available mhealth apps in the marketplace further support the notion that patients want to access healthcare through a digital platform. Look at current mobile health reported statistics: 70 percent of people are using apps to manage their health, 250 million people in the US use apps everyday, and there are over 325,000 mHealth apps on the marketplaces. It is abundantly clear the times are changing.

Today, healthcare organizations are increasingly transitioning to service delivery through digital platforms, allowing them to increase engagement with patients and members. Given the myriad of available applications for patients today, healthcare organizations are undergoing a rapid transformation to maintain their relationships with patients and own the patient experience. Like any revolution, digital healthcare transformations must progress through different stages to ultimately reach an ideal consumer-centric model.

Stage 1: Evolution - interconnected, integrated, hospital-centric systems that are focused on digitizing transactions and engagement with patients and members.

Stage 2: Consumer-Centric - a health services ecosystem built on engaging patients and members on how they want, and when they want, to receive healthcare.

Stage3: Revolution phase- the fundamental shift in healthcare delivery to orchestrators of health, risk, and lifestyle choices for consumers.

As healthcare progresses through these phases, the underlying IT systems will have the same dramatic shift. The future healthcare delivery model is driven by technology where routine services are automated and delivered by intelligent health agents rather than traditional methods. With the advent of more automated systems, healthcare will strive to deliver more personalized healthcare experiences in new and innovative ways.

Healthcare IT organizations will need to build flexible platforms for a competitive advantage to leverage the vast API economy of services that are rapidly becoming the standard for a personalized experience. Key technologies organizations must leverage to create a holistic healthcare platform include:

• Enterprise cloud architecture that deliveries elasticity, dynamic resource management and resiliency without adding complexity or Function as a Service (FAAS).

• Microservices to encapsulate organizational data assets and provide easy access for business interconnectivity.

• Development and orchestration of partners’API’s to enable unique and personalized customer experiences.

At the center of this new paradigm for healthcare organizations is an enterprise cloud model. FAAS is a dynamic platform with hyper scale cloud capacity, consisting of serverless computing, microservices, and container orchestration that all spring from cloud-based services. By leveraging this architecture, information technology enables the creation of a shared customer experience, made possible through the appropriate engagement of patient-centered technology. Essentially, this reduces costs and improves patient outcomes through the rapid deployment of new technologies across an ecosystem of partners.

Ultimately, everyone who is part of the healthcare industry is in the service of patients. Because, at some point, we will all be patients. It is our responsibility as healthcare leaders to offer the best and most appropriate healthcare to the communities we serve. Leading-edge technology offers an avenue for people to make their best healthcare delivery choices and a guidepost for better outcomes that improve health and save lives.

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