How Technology is Shaping the New Normal in Healthcare during Covid-19April 22, 2020 No Comments
The COVID-19 pandemic has ushered in some major changes to our healthcare system. Some of these changes will pass as short-term anomalies, while others promise to become permanent realities.
Although the new normal in healthcare is still being framed, it is clear that the field of Digital Health will play a major role in what comes next. From data to Internet of Things (IoT), here are some of the trends taking shape.
Increase in Data Transparency
Over the years, a ton of important data has been collected in the field of healthcare – data that could help expedite the development of therapies, inform better patient care and speed response to trending health concerns. Unfortunately, much of this health data lives in silos. And because the system is siloed, so is the care that is provided.
This segmented reality has serious consequences for patients. It prevents them from receiving the best care and support. Instead, patients get support from a patchwork of providers, at different sites, which often don’t communicate. This leads to gaps and missed opportunities to intervene before serious problems arise.
The challenges associated with siloed data not only affect patients, they affect payers, providers, pharma, public health and other organizations seeking to make broad level improvements to healthcare as well.
As an anecdote to this, in the weeks since COVID-19 became a pandemic, governments and other entities have launched a plethora of data dashboards. Unfortunately, the data they provide is often incomplete and inconsistent, resulting in policymakers and the general public receiving an insufficient amount of actionable information.
If the lens is taken back even further, and we look at this problem on a system wide perspective, we begin to see how data silos keep all of healthcare from working as quickly, reliably and efficiently as possible. Which is why increasing health data transparency is so important. And, that’s where a lot of time and energy will be spent in the future.
Organizations that develop solutions to improve data transparency, reliability and analysis will see a boom in the coming years, as both providers and policy makes see the need for better data sharing. This work will take shape in the form of both advocacy and practice.
AI and Machine Learning Will Boom
We cannot talk about data transparency without including Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning. These are the disciplines that will help bring forward the tools used by professionals looking to make use of the vast amounts of data that will soon be available. From public health monitoring to clinical diagnosis and therapeutic development, the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies will continue to evolve and become industry standard.
While AI and Machine Learning are already blazing trails, we have yet to realize the amazing clinical, operational, and financial opportunities that await professionals in healthcare. We will see an influx of Machine Learning experts once data transparency issues are resolved, because they are the ones that will help develop the models for making use of the vast pools of incompatible data that becomes available. They will create the neural firepower that makes true Artificial intelligence and the collection of technologies that follow, a reality.
In addition, although AI has already begun making progress to solve process inefficiencies, unlocking its true potential in healthcare will require a better road for navigating the complex, dynamic, and highly regulated world of healthcare. In short, AI in healthcare will need to be tailored to the existing system to achieve widespread adoption and deliver maximum impact.
AI’s first widely adopted applications in healthcare will be those that integrate into clinical workflows and that improve current medical practices, helping achieve higher levels of performance, speed and convenience. Innovators that are able to accomplish this will be those that already understanding existing clinical workflows, and high value problems within healthcare.
In-Person Meetings Will Continue to Decline
One of the obvious outcomes of the COVID-19 pandemic is that telemedicine and telehealth are now here to stay. However, even before COVID-19 hit, the need for remote communication on all levels was growing. This is especially true for those on the B2B front, selling products and services to physicians and other healthcare workers.
For example, over the last year, there was a sharp decline in the number of prescribers who were permitted to meet in-person with pharmaceutical reps. Just over half of physicians recently polled said they have met in person with Pharma reps recently. This is a substantial drop from 2018, when 67% reported such visits.
In offices where meetings are still taking place, physicians overwhelmingly favor brief meetings. 85% of physicians in 2018 said their ideal interaction with a drug rep lasted no longer than five minutes. This isn’t much time to provide a physician with all that is needed to build a relationship, but it is enough time to provide them with a branded, out of the box ready smart device that they can utilize for requests at their own convenience.
Telehealth and IoT powered solutions will continue to grow in popularity, because they increase efficiencies and limit exposure to risk factors like viruses by eliminating unnecessary visits to hospitals and other healthcare facilities.
What does the Future Hold?
In the future, data-driven smart devices will be utilized at the clinical and treatment level in tandem with patient devices to assist in the development of tailor-made therapeutics that work with a patients’ physiology and condition. Consider, for example, an advanced IoT device that monitors a host of biochemistries and transmits results instantly without the patient stepping out of their house or pricking their finger. Critical therapeutic data could go from the patient to the physician to the pharmaceutical company in a simple, streamlined fashion – aiding in rapid development of advanced therapeutics
In addition, the deployment of patient monitoring devices that provide automatic alerts for caregivers, reminders to take medications and the means to remotely check in with nurses, doctors and specialists can also connect with Pharma to Physician devices to enable an instantaneous supply chain.
Current and future IoT devices are creating a new, symbiotic world of efficiencies and cost savings, not usually attainable through conventional electronic or computer-based means. It’s definitely a new industrial revolution, perhaps creating a better relationship between clinical development, physicians and patient customers.
About the Author
Anupam Nandwana, CEO and Founder of Swittons and P360, is an executive focused on – building solutions using artificial intelligence and Internet of Things (IoT) for the life sciences industry. His vision is to transform the way businesses operate by helping them increase speed to market while also improving patient care. Swittons recently launched its fully customizable IoT powered solution to Improve Pharma to physician communication.