Healthcare business models are adapting fast in the USA. The rapid rise of digital tools that give patients more options, the Affordable Care Act, and improved technology ecosystem has led to a trend towards more accessible healthcare, reduced out of pocket costs for patients, better value, better patient care and an overall more patient-centric approach to healthcare. This is being manifested in numerous ways in the United States and in even more alternative fashions due to the Coronavirus pandemic, but digital-first practices in both patient care and in the management of medical records are top of the pile for many healthcare companies.
The Technology Ecosystem
A trillion dollar battle is waging in the background of the healthcare industry, as medical software companies scramble to profit from this digital shift. Since the mandate for Universal Healthcare Records. Every technology company involved in the technology space is trying to grab their slice of the cloud. Interoperability is the word of the day, and one of the biggest challenges for healthcare companies trying to navigate the digital waters.
By interoperable EHR records, we mean that Electronic Healthcare Records are able to be shared with multiple EHR systems to allow easier treatment of patients. With numerous EHR systems out there, and any amount of reasons for choosing one or the other (including size of the facility, cost & requirements of the state), currently much of the transfer of data between medical facilities happens manually by fax or long phone calls. This eats up time and money for the people on either end, leaves the process open to human error and is generally inefficient.
The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) has outlined a plan to achieve Universal interoperability by 2024, but a number of barriers still exist before this is possible.
- The cost of the integration work required to integrate a multitude of EHR systems, with numerous technical specifications.
- A myriad of data privacy and HIPAA compliance concerns.
- Some stakeholders are incentivized to block the free sharing of data between systems and facilities.
The digital-first approach to patient care means we’ll continue to see innovation in healthcare methods to engage patients, and provide a better service through front end and back end medical software.
Medical Artificial Intelligence
AI is already being utilized in the healthcare industry widely – and we’ll continue to see growth in 2021 and beyond as facilities continue to use it to get more informed in diagnosis, medical process and security. AI will likely never replace the intuition and years of expertise of a real doctor, but it provides data that doctors and clinicians can use to better inform their decision making.
Simple AI tool such as Chatbots are helping patients get minor care and are directing them to the right professionals faster, wearable medical technology is feeding data and insights back to platforms that are better able to predicts current or future ailments as well as recommendations for how patients can better look after their health on the go.
The future for AI in the healthcare space is to become integrated further into the fabric of medical processes. Rather than being one tool, data set or algorithm that exists to solve one specific problem, artificial intelligence will be better integrated into the full cycle of patient care, with multiple data sets and algorithms working together with doctors to provide more accurate predictive analysis, better patient experience and better aftercare.
Telehealth and App-Based Platforms
Remember the days when web-based medical help meant typing your symptoms into Web MD and being told that you’re probably going to die?
Well, it’s 2020, and we’ve moved on from that.
Over the last few years, healthcare companies have quietly been finding solutions for providing better remote health for patients, and the chaos brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic has increased the level of urgency further, as doctors have quickly realized that providing care via Zoom calls simply doesn’t cut it.
Added to that – insurance companies and now reimbursing medical companies for telehealth, adding to the financial motivation for providing remote medical care. The advantages are numerous, widening the reach of medical care to far-away communities, providing better post-surgery care to those who are house-bound. Or simply providing better care to the elderly, for which visits to the doctor often take their toll.
Almost everyone these days is accustomed to FaceTime and Google Chat, so it’s not too big a leap to jump onto healthcare apps to speak to a doctor. Telehealth simply allows the patient an experience that may suit their needs better, and offers them a wider range of services than may be available locally. Indeed this extends to a wide range of healthcare company types, with innovative solutions like BetterHelp providing remote therapy care to those who need someone to speak to. Nutrimedy provides clinical dietary help remotely, GYANT uses AI and chat functionality to serve patients remotely and offer self-care advice. Hale Health connects doctors and patients between visits with a digital platform that allows pre-visit and after-visit questionnaires and a ton of patient centric help for a personalized experience.
Healthcare providers who are taking the road to digital must ensure that the technology they develop, integrate and provide to their patients is HIPAA compliant, and prioritize patient privacy. Speak to the experienced team at Elko for the best way to go about this. With an experienced team and a healthcare/biomedical engineering background – we’re well versed in managing EHR and EMR records and producing the highest quality web and mobile applications for the medical industry.
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