New innovations coupled with the technological speed of change, are transforming our expectations and placing greater pressure on our healthcare system to be more personalised, flexible, relevant and productive. As demands on our healthcare system increase, we’re seeing global digital advances technology starting to solve some of these challenges, to meet these new demands, and to enhance healthcare experiences worldwide.
Patient demand for a digitally-enabled healthcare experience is growing fast; 38% of patients in England are aware that they can access their digital data, up from 21% two years ago. Many consumers are already leading the way, as evidenced by the boom in apps and wearables to manage health.
Progress and change are not without challenges, and data and trust represent perhaps the most pressing; our consumer dilemma is that we are becoming more empowered to care for ourselves, yet the more bespoke we require our experiences to be, the more personal data we are required to share. Concerns abound regarding the protection of this sensitive patient data – with four out of five Engilsh consumers worried about a data breach. Given the highly personal nature of healthcare data, the quandry is clear; we don’t want other people to have unnecessary access – but we understand that they must, especially when our health is at risk. In this new world of personalised health data ecosystems, sensitive data is increasingly held and exchanged by non-traditional healthcare organisations. The security of that data is paramount. Companies collaborating within that ecosystem have a huge responsibility to actively safeguard that data – and crucially to continue communicating that they are doing so.
How then can new advances in technology and digital healthcare give consumers and clinicians the solutions they need, whilst simultaneously building digital trust?
At Accenture, we have identified the key trends in our Technology Vision for Digital Health. They show that the future of healthcare will be defined not only by the power of technology to enable positive change, but crucially by the power of technology to adapt to the people who use it.
1. Artificial Intelligence (AI)
AI at its core enables interactions with digital technology that are smarter, adaptive and tailored. There are myriad potential healthcare roles for AI – from ‘curator’ – suggesting care plans based on the patient’s history, to ‘advisor’ – guiding both physician and patient to best outcome, or ‘orchestrator’ choreographing care, lifestyle and health benefits. Systems will know more detail than ever before about each patient - from your medical history and family to your allergies and lifestyle behaviour. So instead of googling your symptoms, you could expect a personal response in minutes delivered from a tool such as Amazon’s Alexa or Google’s Home – guiding you to the appropriate course of action. Health Tap – is a company that not only delivers 24/7 virtual care services, but also uses AI for their Dr AI – the ‘doctor’ has been ‘trained’ by millions of patient-doctor interactions and is intended to give patients a self-service understanding of common symptoms and complaints. Other providers might use avatar based interaction to support healthcare workers in triage and patient navigation – such as Sense:ly or IPSoft’s Amelia.
These intelligent technologies are designed to build a sense of comfort, familiarity and ease – empowering patients and practitioners alike.
2. Ecosystem power plays
We’re seeing a huge shift to patient-centred healthcare organisation, and big investment in ecosystems around the patient. We’re seeing collaborations across non-traditional channels, with innovative and impactful collaborations having the potential to improve loyalty and market share whilst maximising productivity across an unbroken continuum of care. In the UK we’ve seen the dating app Tinder partner with the NHS to increase organ donor registration and access to sexual health services. In the US, one the healthcare provider CareMore Health System has partnered with rideshare app Lyft to help vulnerable patients attend appointments on time – a big deal when an estimated 3.6 million Americans miss or delay appointments due to transport reasons.
3. Workforce market place – invent your future workforce
Given far-reaching changes in how we work, and changes in the very nature of the workforce, it’s no surprise that we’re seeing a corresponding change in care models. Mobile and virtual technology are being used to overcome virtual and geographical barriers between health plans, doctors, consumers, employers and care delivery networks. At service providers such as American Well’s Exchange, Babylon and Doctor Care Anywhere, new technologies allow doctors to ‘clock in’ at any time, making themselves available to patients, as well as giving doctors vital access to resources including telehealth training, clinical guidelines, peer support and billing. This move to a more liquid way of working is creating new paradigms across care provision and practitioner work.
4.Design for Humans
Nowhere is human-centred design more important than in healthcare. Healthcare organisations that can use technology to make the experience more personalised, naturally boost levels of patient trust and loyalty. Human-centred design means that patients and clinicians are increasingly part of the design process, focused on solving problems. One company embodying this new design focus and inspiring new behaviour is a Finnish company called Noona helping oncology patients. Their cloud technology helps capture patient reported outcomes in oncology via a cancer patient toolset encouraging 24/7 reporting, thereby helping patients to feel safe, and increasing survival by ensuring the right care at the right time.
5. The unchartered
Healthcare enterprises aren’t just creating new products and services, they’re shaping new digital industries. This is throwing up a host of regulatory, ethical and governance questions, some of which aren’t easy to answer. We’re entering unchartered territory, with 66% of healthcare executives currently working on innovations that fall in to regulatory grey areas.
Healthcare organisations need to help shape the new rules of the game, to show leadership in an evolving marketplace. Key amidst all this change, is building consumer and patient confidence – something that requires rigorous collaboration and connectivity. 42% of health organisations have already joined a consortium to self-regulate – but we need everyone to.
It’s clear that building and keeping our trust is crucial in establishing effective digital healthcare for all. Without trust, none of these advances are possible: establishing and maintaining it must be our top priority