The latest AIMed Webinars – Health 3.0: Connected health fueling the power of AI, was held on 24 January 2019 at 9am PST. An hour-long discussion co-organized with HP, the event was moderated by the company’s lead in global healthcare, population health information technology and innovations, Fran Ayalasomayajula. 

Reena Sangar, director and head of digital and connected health, Ipsos Healthcare; Dr. Nick Patel, chief digital officer, Prisma Health and Dr. Chris Gibbons, chief health innovation adviser for the Federal Communications Commission’s Connect2Health Task Force and founder & chief executive officer of The Greystone Group were the invited speakers. 

Audience were led through the developments of healthcare and its evolution in this digital era. The speakers also touched upon some of the challenges which prevented the field from flourishing and what should policymakers and physicians do to deliver more efficient care. The following are the summary and key takeaways. 

Challenges in the present healthcare system 

  • Lack of reimbursement for new technology adoption 

Overall, speakers agreed that there is a general lack of support in terms of new technology adoption. As Sangar pointed out, if the new product is not clear in the reimbursement pathway and if there is no reliable supply, doctors may not want to integrate it into their practice. 

Dr. Patel agreed, he said that doctors were reimbursed well 16 years ago. As healthcare moves from 1.0 to 2.0, it becomes less humane, more digital and reimbursement also started to decline dramatically. In the present Healthcare 3.0, conglomeration is a norm for the purpose of cost-cutting. Although it is at a better position to leverage on reimbursement, small medical units are gradually being pushed out of the system. 

Dr. Gibbons believe this is perhaps why Indian and China are moving rapidly ahead in terms of digital adoption. Because clinicians are not incentivize, the difference in terms of reimbursement models is stopping us from moving to a 100% digital care. 

  • Disregard the needs of those in the system

During his speech, Dr. Patel mentioned it’s our mistake to always start from technology. Instead of thinking “we have got his piece of technology and see what it can do to our healthcare”, we should always look at the problem first. The consequence of not taking a bottom-up approach is spending a lot of money on buying technology that’s not what the institution wanted. 

The needs of the providers, patients and organization should be the priority. Finding out what is missing in the practice and filling it up with technology will eliminate “big spending that bring little rewards”. For instance, as suggested by Sangar, it will be useful for to provide doctors with a tracking and logging device that reminds patients to take the required medication at the designated time. 

On the other hand, rendering frictionless access for patients. Services such as online scheduling tools, chatbots that remind individuals when to take their medication or record their blood sugar level and automate orders for those in need for mammograph etc. will keep them in the healthcare system.

What should digital healthcare embrace? 

Dr. Gibbons outlined an ideal illustration of what digital healthcare should look like in near future. At the basis of which, data is freely shared between physicians and medical establishments, to continue the facilitation of building effective AI models. With this, most care in the future should be delivered outside hospitals. So inpatient care will only be taking 5-10% of the whole system. 

“Hospital” at home should be the norm, most patients who were admitted into the hospitals or are visiting the Emergency unit will be asked to go home. From there, care providers will provide care for them at home. It has been found that comparing the results between those who had been taken care in the hospitals and those who received care at home, the latter group expressed higher satisfaction. Lower cost is also incurred on both care provider’s and patients’ side.

Smart care communities will be created as more people opt for “Hospital” at home. At the same time, the present infrastructures are likely to take on new roles. Insurance companies may become health companies; retail stores, pharmacies or post offices may turn into health centers and traditional hospitals may not survive. The new hospitals will be the “command centers”, ensuring data are coming in and transmitting out precisely. 

Execute what we had envision

To the experts, that future vision above is not far and this should be achieved in due time. 

  • To think beyond EHRs 

Some healthcare providers are skeptical towards the real benefits brought about by technology. Indeed, the electronic health records (EHRs) has unintended outcomes like decline in productivity, patient dissatisfaction and higher expense. However, as Dr. Patel urged, we need to think around and beyond EHRs in order to improve. It is important for those who are working in the healthcare system to recognize the need for change. This will act as a passage to get buy-in from policymakers.

  • To generate actions out of data

There will be an estimated of 50 billion wearables connected to the internet by 2020. All of which generate an abundance of data beyond EHRs. In order to make sense of them all, there is a need to extract actionable data. By actionable means, data which will allow us to predict who is about to get sick or probe to an infection. This will permit the system to provide real healthcare and not sick care like what we are doing currently. 

This AIMed Webinars is still available for re-visit presently. Link.

Author Bio
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Hazel Tang

A science writer with data background and an interest in current affair, culture and arts; a no-med from an (almost) all-med family. Follow on Twitter.