U.S. accounting and advisory firm BDO’s 2020 Healthcare Digital Transformation Survey polled 100 C-suite executives at healthcare organizations in the U.S. with annual revenues between $250 million and $3 billion. Over half (54%) implement a digital transformation strategy with the top three priorities of improving the customer experience, increasing operational efficiencies, and modernizing their technologies.
In a recent Scientific American article on healthcare post-COVID, healthcare investor and consultant Raphael Rakowski wrote that he believes AI, point-of-care diagnostics, and wearable biometric monitoring will propel more decentralized care in the future.
"AI will democratize optimum medical care by using large amounts of patient data and best-practice evidence to guide diagnosis and treatment,” wrote Rakowski.
“Point of care diagnostics technologies (think of the Tricorder in Star Trek) will allow medical providers to have instant confirmation of patient diagnoses in decentralized settings. This will reduce costs and accelerate access to appropriate treatment. Wearable biometric monitoring devices will allow patients and medical providers to remotely monitor their medical status, allowing for safe medical care at home or in other decentralized care sites."
A recent report from McKinsey agrees that integrating AI-based diagnostics, cloud-based storage of medical records, and integrating information across the care continuum will contribute to more cost efficiencies. But it stresses that “consumer adoption…will be driven by more informed consumers demanding a seamless technology experience irrespective of the care setting.”
The Data Conundrum
COVID-19 has pushed healthcare technology to mainstream care delivery. Nearly 40% of respondents in a recent report indicated that they already have a digital infrastructure for analytics, telemedicine and remote patient monitoring.
“It took a global event to create social change in only five weeks that probably would have [otherwise] taken five years,” said David B. Nash, M.D., one of the authors of the report, “A Look at the New Normal of Healthcare: Perspectives from the Industry Leaders.” It cited studies that predict a seven-fold increase in telehealth in the U.S. by 2025.
But another healthcare visionary, Judith Faulkner, CEO of healthcare software firm Epic Systems, cautions that disparate data remains a challenge.
“Data definitions are a big problem,” Faulkner said. ”Health systems are defining data differently, which makes it impossible to aggregate.” Faulkner sees the potential for more data standardization efforts and a focus on public health surveillance as a lasting legacy of the pandemic.
Medicine will change over the next few years as algorithms process data from multiple sources around the world, according to Dana Zanone, M.D., vice present of Adventist Health in Nebraska.
“Aggregating that data will significantly change how we care for people based on their personal risk factors.”