Today’s healthcare is plagued by cognitive dissonance where the twin requirements of superior patient care at reasonable costs trigger constant discomfort. While every healthcare provider strives to deliver high-quality care, the business of healthcare can get in the way of treating patients and their families.
Workflows, processes, and paperwork put healthcare practitioners behind computer screens when they would rather be engaging directly with their patients. While mobile devices, laptops, and apps aren’t leaving healthcare, a new wave of advanced technologies is rolling in to replace current technology that separates patients from their nurses, doctors, and clinicians.
Hospitals are launching digital initiatives that are moving them toward a new operations model - the intelligent enterprise—that allows them to deliver value-based healthcare and a seamless patient experience.
At the center of this model is intelligent technology, which is taking a lead role in patient care. “We are on the journey towards creating an intelligent enterprise. Healthcare providers are thinking about integrated, automated solutions that can communicate with each other and with other departments,” explains Martin Kopp, Global General Manager Healthcare at SAP.
He notes that these technology platforms are increasingly creating information parity between a providers IT systems to allow healthcare providers to reimagine operations and care delivery. “Computer systems trained by doctors, advanced technologies, and big data will provide much needed support for physicians, so they can delegate tasks. They can monitor patients with less critical needs virtually and thus spend more time with patients that require immediate attention.”
By applying intelligent technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), and advanced analytics, healthcare practitioners can change where and how they spend their limited time. “With the right technology, providers can begin to automate repetitive tasks. This enables them to focus on higher-value tasks and focus on individual patient care,” says Kopp.
Some of the advanced technologies he sees on the horizon include:
- More data collected from mobile devices, sensors and patient wearables will enable clinicians to continuously monitor patients, find new digital biomarkers and predict medical events before they happen;
- Machine-learning based clinical decision-support platforms will provide guidance for healthcare professionals and predict multiple medical events, such as length of stay, readmissions and mortality;
- Billing and invoicing systems that are a lot more accurate will enable claims processing that is as much as two times faster and able to identify potential fraudulent activities.
Data, Data, Everywhere
In addition to advanced technology, at the foundation of the intelligent enterprise for healthcare is patient data. While the digitization of healthcare has progressed slower than other industries, the amount of usable patient data has increased drastically.
“According to one estimate, the healthcare industry generates approximately 30 percent of the entire world’s data volume” notes Kopp. Doing the math, experts predict in the United States, healthcare data will soon reach the zettabyte (1021 gigabytes) scale. * Each year, a single patient generates 80 megabytes in imaging and electronic medical record (EMR) data.
“The variety of data types, all in different formats, contained within the medical ecosystem is overwhelming,” says Kopp. This includes patient demographics, interactions, diagnosis, pathology, laboratory results, medications, radiology, procedures, post-therapy care, clinical documents, operational, financial and insurance information etc.
The biggest sources of data are diagnostic images, genome sequencing profiles, and proteomics data. A provider collects thousands of data fields and files per patient, all of which describe their health status in varying ways. “Healthcare providers are in need of automated ways to mine, share, and analyze these enormous data pools,” says Kopp.
Patient data available in EMR systems is only partly structured and allows mining to a lesser extent. Since most of the data used to treat a patient is unstructured—entered as notes and free text from doctors-providers need to turn to natural language processing tools. “Digitizing doctor’s notes and making them available for structured data analysis is a vital piece to improving patient care within the healthcare enterprise,” he adds.
The Intelligent Enterprise for Healthcare
As providers launch successful digital transformation initiatives, the future model of value-based patient care starts to emerge. SAP along with healthcare experts have outlined a framework of key components that are needed to enable an intelligence enterprise for healthcare:
- Health data platform: A fully digital platform with optimized health data management and security, and operational in the cloud
- Intelligent technologies: A portfolio of advanced technologies that include AI, machine learning, IoT, and real-time, in-memory analytics embedded within business applications and processes.
- Intelligent healthcare application suite: A set of business process optimization and innovation applications that can enable better patient outcomes at lower costs. This includes apps that reimagine core hospital processes (for example, moving from manual admission to patient online registration and self-check in), ensure operational efficiency, better patient experience and better empowerment of the workforce.
“Healthcare providers need a 360-degree view of their operations. They need to see business processes and technology solutions holistically, with patient needs at the core of their innovation strategy,” says Kopp. When that happens, intelligent technologies will help providers accelerate the delivery of value-based care, in which providers are paid based on patient health outcomes vs. the quantity of healthcare services delivered.
“Hospitals are at different maturity levels in regards to digitalization, and value-based care is a complex target. Some providers are rapidly moving in that direction and saving millions of dollars in procedures and supplies, which they can now spend on other things, like research. In the end, value-based care will be a game-changer for the healthcare industry,” he adds.