As the healthcare industry changes, particularly driven by technological innovation, it’s imperative that forward-thinking healthcare providers stay up to speed. And staying up to speed doesn’t just refer to knowing what’s going on, but it also implies a sense of duty for CIOs and others in the C-suite to evaluate and implement the worthwhile opportunities.
One area where the healthcare industry is seeing a lot of change is how organizations develop and leverage their digital presence. How are companies positioning themselves to meet patients where they are and deliver care not just on the company’s terms, but on the patient’s terms?
In a recent webinar titled The Modern Healthcare CIO, Dwight Raum, CIO of Johns Hopkins shared how he thinks digital is developing and creating a new proverbial front door for patients and providers to connect and sustain engagement.
The Public Health Emergency Set the Stage
The COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE) was nothing short of terrible. That being said, there were some unexpected positive consequences that developed, especially relating to the increased adoption of technology by providers, such as telehealth, patient portals and the use of analytics and reporting to help healthcare organizations track and monitor staff exposures, personal health equipment and patients with COVID. For instance, in February of 2020, Johns Hopkins averaged somewhere around 100 telehealth visits monthly, according to Raum. Fast forward to February 2021, and that number grew to over 60,000 average monthly visits.
The upswell in the adoption of technology was brought about by the PHE, but that doesn’t negate the positive outcomes that came from the changes. Patients and providers are now more comfortable with digital healthcare, and the energy needed to drive adoption has been lowered. The embrace of digital healthcare is likely a long-term shift in inpatient healthcare.
The Future: Digital Point of Entry
Brick and mortar will always have a place in the healthcare world, but the initial entry point for patients may be changing. Digital may become the initial point of entry for patients—the means to leverage resources like predictive analytics to route patients to the most efficient path to getting well.
Not only do the implications affect how care is provided, but it also increases access to care across the spectrum. A network of smart agents supported by artificial intelligence (AI) can serve as the connection point between supply and demand. These systems can not only help to guide patients to the ideal provider, but they can drive clinical decision-making to suggest the right intervention at the right time.
Challenges Up Ahead
Better care and more efficient use of resources are no doubt major positives. However, there are some logistical challenges that, while not deal-breakers, must be addressed.
First, not every patient is going to have access to the digital means we’re talking about. How will these patients be managed to ensure they don’t fall through the cracks? What will the balance of digital entry and traditional brick and mortar entry look like?
Second, what are the logistical challenges that need to be addressed? As more patients send messages to providers digitally, how will those messages get answered in a timely and thorough fashion? Will this limit the number of patients a provider can see?
Third, how will healthcare organizations address security concerns as the process and sensitive information become decentralized? While network security is already on everyone’s radar due to nearly daily reports of ransomware, the importance ramps up as the breadth of operations and the skills needed to protect the increasing amount of patient data.
Again, these aren’t reasons to shy away from digital healthcare as they can and will provide better care for patients. But in order to make sure the positive outcomes are sustainable, these concerns must be addressed.
Hear More Now
If you’d like to learn more about the ongoing shift towards digital in the healthcare space and what you might be able to do to keep your organization up to speed, we’d invite you to listen to the full webinar for free now by clicking here.
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