The C-Suite Should Pay Attention to These Nine Digital Health Trends

Nine Digital Health Trends

Digital technology is enabling a long-term shift in the way healthcare is delivered. The transformation involves switching from a volume-based (fee-for-service) business model to one that rewards value rather than quantity. It also involves placing more emphasis on patient-centered (personalised) care, proactive (preventive) intervention, objective (outcomes) data, care coordination, non-facility care, and overall cost of care. Efficiency in operations is also essential to the shift.

The amount invested in digital health has surged from $8.2 billion in 2019 to $29.1 billion in 2021, with an increase in the number of deals from 411 to 729. The development of numerous point solutions aimed at comparable markets and/or applications, as well as investments in infrastructure and interoperability, are ongoing.

Nine Digital Health Trends

1. patient encounter

The journey of touchpoints (interactions) along the treatment continuum forms the foundation of the patient experience. It entails “obtaining appointments on time, having simple access to information, and maintaining effective communication with health care providers.” Along with safety and effectiveness, patient experience is a metric of quality.

Patients’ experiences are becoming more similar to those of retail customers as technology advances and a greater percentage of expenditures are covered by patients themselves. Patient choice is becoming more and more influenced by patient access; unhappiness may result in a switch to a different provider and a loss of market share. Contact centres are implementing an omnichannel “digital front door” that makes use of technology to boost self-service capabilities, produce insights through customer relationship management systems, and optimise human resource use.

2. The Interoperability and Usability of Electronic Medical Records

Electronic medical records (EMRs), also known as electronic health records or EHRs, make it easier for doctors to document patient care, enter patient orders electronically, and administer medications in closed-loop systems. They also offer clinical decision support and serve as a central repository for data input from various providers. The list of issues is crystal clear, and the outcomes of the quantitative tests are recorded. The transmission of health information between health systems, independent practitioners, clinical labs, pharmacies, community organisations, patients, and those who care for them has been relatively constrained.

Because of “known concerns concerning the intuitiveness and use of the technology as well as workflow issues,” it has been assumed that EMRs contribute to physician burnout. There may be a “negative impact on the patient-provider relationship, clinical workflows, and clinical productivity,” according to responses to a sizable poll of physicians. U.S. doctors “spend an average of 16 minutes and 14 seconds utilising electronic health records (EHRs), with chart review (33 percent), documenting (24 percent), and ordering (17 percent) accounting for the majority of the time.”

Several health systems (inside EPIC) have developed unique dashboards (standardised templates) to enhance retrieval and improve documentation. In order to improve chart navigation (search) on desktop and mobile interfaces, a top technology business has teamed up with a few healthcare systems. The technology company is also gathering data on patient access preferences. Input from patients and doctors is also being entered into the EMR using advanced voice activation technology.

3. Financial Automation

Revenue cycle management (RCM), where particular tasks are frequently low complexity, manual, repetitive, and transactional, is a pioneering and significant AI application. AI solutions are being used to increase productivity, increase accuracy, and decrease cost-to-collect and revenue leakage. Examples include AI solutions that perform medical coding and billing, improve charge capture, conduct insurance verification, prevent and manage denials, prioritise appeals, prioritise clinical documentation integrity and coder chart reviews, and enhance patient access through smart scheduling. Other examples include AI chatbots that help patients with questions about billing and payments and the automation of numerous other A/R-related workflows and tasks.

In addition to an expanding selection of AI tools and opportunities, RCM practitioners and connected parties are also faced with novel risks and obstacles. When properly implemented, an AI solution can benefit operations by enhancing patient care, boosting efficiency, increasing profitability, and ensuring regulatory compliance. A poorly developed AI solution, on the other hand, can result in broad systemic flaws, prejudice, and unanticipated risks.

4. RPA and AI/ML-based predictive and prescriptive algorithms

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technological breakthroughs have made it possible for healthcare businesses to identify requirements and solutions more quickly and accurately, leveraging data patterns to make quick judgments about patient care or company operations. By utilising vast amounts of data from various data sources to learn about a patient population’s history diagnoses and treatment plans, the introduction of AI/ML solutions improves preventative and patient care, ultimately improving patient outcomes. Robotic process automation (RPA) enables clearly identified functional processes and documented workflows to be automated, increasing performance accuracy and speed and reducing the amount of manual labour an organisation needs. This is due to the amount of manual intervention in patient care, both directly from the provider side and indirectly from the office-centric business operations.

Clinical predictive and prescriptive analytics will play a bigger part in the shift from volume (fee-for-service) to value in healthcare delivery. A focus on secondary prevention (early detection and intervention), tertiary prevention (treating established disease to prevent deterioration), closing care gaps, managing care transitions (such as from hospital to home), treating behavioural health issues, promoting self-management, and, if appropriate, providing palliative care are all necessary for the redesign of the chronic-care delivery system to be successful. In radiology, machine learning-based diagnostic applications are also being developed, such as CT-scan stroke detection.

Supply chain management, facilities, materials, and inventory management are examples of operational use cases; more particularly, forecasting demand, assessing performance, implementing prescriptive predictions, assuring forecast accuracy and appropriate inventories, and lowering out-of-stocks.

5. Telehealth Will Survive

Telehealth visits among Medicare recipients climbed 63 times in 2020, from 840,000 visits in 2019 to 52.7 million visits in 2017.

A third of all visits to behavioural health experts were made via telehealth in 2017, compared to 8% of visits to primary care doctors and 3% of visits to other specialists. According to a recent poll, 23.1% of participants used telehealth services within the previous four weeks. Especially for behavioural health, telehealth has become a viable substitute for in-person care.

Moving forward, telehealth should concentrate on maintaining IT platform optimizations that can enhance operational efficiency, improve patient experiences, develop revenue codes to assure accurate invoicing, and remove barriers in phone and video conferencing. There are worries about how Medicare members will be affected by the “telehealth cliff” if the public health emergency is not prolonged or a long-term “fix” is not developed.

6. Cloud-based system modernization and digital transformation

Digital transformation has a number of advantages for healthcare businesses when applied at an organisational level. When done correctly, it may improve data-driven decision-making, power innovation, increase flexibility and speed, and minimise operating costs.

Coordination is necessary for a successful digital transformation, which depends on the need to modernise platforms, applications, infrastructures, and business processes, as well as on advances in cloud and associated technologies.

7. Cybersecurity

Healthcare businesses have experienced a sharp rise in ransomware attacks since the epidemic began: the Federal Bureau of Investigation documented 148 attacks between June and December 2021. Additionally, throughout the entire year 2021, 45 million people were impacted by data breaches. Typically, healthcare firms allocate 5% of their IT spending on cybersecurity, with the remaining 75% going toward enhancing and updating technological platforms (EMR, CRM). Spending on cybersecurity, which is intended to improve incident response skills and security, is anticipated to increase over the coming several years.

8. Efficiencies in operations (Cost Reduction)

With rising costs and declining reimbursements, it is getting harder and harder to manage high-quality patient outcomes. Hospital operations are still under pressure to cut expenses while delivering the best possible patient care. Being a world-class organisation requires operational flexibility. The first stage in enabling high-efficiency operations is seamless integration between multi-variable resources and technological systems.

9. Care at Home Assisted by Technology

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) Acute Hospital Care at Home (AHCaH) project was introduced in November 2020 and permits hospitals to treat a limited number of patients at an inpatient level of care in their homes. Patients who qualified for AHCaH had to be seen in an ER or have already been admitted to a hospital. The initiative is founded on years of experience gained in Europe and other regions (fewer complications and cheaper costs, for instance, have been documented at two major academic medical centers). As of October 27, 2021, about 1,900 patients had received care at 186 hospitals through the AHCaH project.

Vital indicators (heart rate, respiration rate, temperature, and blood pressure), blood oxygen levels (pulse oximetry), atrial fibrillation, activity (steps taken, miles travelled, calories burned), and sleep are all currently being monitored remotely. New technologies are being developed to treat illnesses like pneumonia, COPD, neuromuscular problems, and seizure disorders. Care at home is made possible by these technology.

In conclusion

Numerous strategic challenges with a broad focus on patient involvement, care management, operational efficiencies, and data security create a challenge for chief information officers (CIOs) and, where existent, chief digital officers (CDOs). Numerous technological developments that could result in obsolescence in the not-too-distant future have made these problems worse. For successful implementation, a strategic vision that takes capital requirements into account must be matched with a tactical strategy.

The Digital Health practise of FTI Consulting is dedicated to tackling difficult issues with data strategy and health information technology. Our Digital Health team helps clients from throughout the healthcare ecosystem define and accomplish their objectives utilising enabling technologies with a focus on benefits realisation.

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