This article by Ambra Health CEO, Morris Panner, was originally published in Forbes on March 5, 2020.
As we begin the new decade, I’d like to talk about six major healthcare industry trends that I’m most excited about in 2020.
1. AI-Powered Tools To Increase Efficiency
AI tools are being developed that can help providers make clinical decisions faster. For instance, one tool currently in the works could assist with examinations that need to be reviewed by a radiologist before being performed. The radiologist usually has to identify a protocol and confirm it is the right way to do the exam, which can be very time-consuming. Rather than having to make a new assessment each time, the tool would enable the radiologist to simply confirm “yes” or “no” to whether the tool’s suggestion is correct. If the algorithm is right, the radiologist just moves on to the next case; when the algorithm is wrong, that information can actually be leveraged to better train it, so that its decisions will get more accurate over time.
Another tool, Aidoc, uses AI to look for abnormalities in scans and is already being used commercially in over 100 sites.
Tools like these can really help strike a balance between efficiency and quality of care. I think we’re going to see tools that can be tailored to specific use cases.
2. Using The Cloud To Break Down Silos And Move Data Faster
Multiple pathways and data silos can make it difficult for providers to connect and pass information to each other. But the trend of adopting cloud-based solutions and platforms is helping to streamline pathways and break down those barriers. The result is that certain processes become easier for both provider and patient. For instance, transferring X-rays digitally is much simpler than physically carrying or snail-mailing a CD from one place to the other. Doctors in separate locations can also more easily confer with one another. The cloud can allow processes that once took weeks to happen in a matter of minutes.
What’s more, having patient information readily available in the cloud could make it possible to digitally track a patient’s entire “healthcare journey” from diagnosis to treatment and follow-up. The more systems are streamlined to make patient information and data accessible, the more informed clinicians’ decisions will be at every step of the process.
3. Ensuring Patient Consent In The Big Data Era
The importance of “patient consent” is already well understood, but it is evolving in the era of big data and the cloud. Most institutions have some sort of consent form for the patients that says something to the effect of, “By receiving care at this institution, you agree for us to store your data for your care and to use this data for quality improvement, research and other initiatives.” But these forms may no longer be sufficient.
Now, many vendors working with healthcare institutions are providing cloud-based solutions that involve third-party access to the data. Does the patient who is signing the form know that this third party may also have their data in addition to the hospital or doctor? This is an area where experts will need to get involved in updating protocols for properly informed patient consent.
4. Virtual Solutions For Busy Medical Professionals
Many tech-savvy millennials graduating from medical school and entering the workplace are arriving with expectations of digital solutions to daily issues. An example of one such solution in the works is a dashboard tool that allows radiology residents to review the exams they have interpreted, and when they’re on call, they can receive attendings’ reviews of their reports on a day-to-day basis — even if the attending physician is not present to review their work in person. In fact, a lot of trainees prefer this sort of setup that allows them to do their work and then go back to the dashboard for comments later. They feel it’s more efficient, exposes them to a lot more pathology and helps them to better learn.
5. Demystifying Healthcare Data For Patients
Patients are becoming more tech savvy and are increasingly interested in obtaining detailed information about their own health, and new technology is being designed to help them better interpret that information.
For example, the University of Pennsylvania is developing a software system that is layered on top of the radiology reporting system and provides that report to the patient. If there is a complex term that the patient doesn’t know, they can run their mouse over it to launch a separate screen that explains what the term means so that the patient can better understand what the radiologist said in the report.
As the patient population becomes more data-hungry and cloud-aware, I believe this pattern of innovation will continue adapting to that demand to provide more tangible information to patients.
6. Home-Based Healthcare
As the enormous baby boomer population continues moving into retirement, the need for home-based healthcare and more outpatient-based care is going to increase sharply due to the traditional system of centralized care becoming too overburdened. Delivering care directly to the home can often be preferable since it doesn’t require transporting the patient.
Meanwhile, it is getting easier and easier to transport the technology instead. IoT devices, pacemakers, blood pressure cuffs, glucometers and other smart devices that can digitally transfer information, like the above-mentioned digital stethoscopes, are becoming more and more popular and allow patients to receive care from the comfort of home.