Overview

If you have watched a Science Fiction movie recently, chances are high that you have seen an excellent example of the idealized state of Digital Healthcare: Injured in battle, the hero is brought to a futuristic medical facility. The room is bright with monitors and intuitive displays illuminating a medical staff who anxiously approach with portable tablet-like devices in their hands. The hero is scanned, diagnosed, cured and closely monitored until they able to return to action.

Of course, this is only the movies. However, it is indicative of how consumers are beginning to view and expect healthcare services to be delivered in the near future. These expectations are one of the major factors driving an emerging Digital Healthcare business model in which Health Delivery Organizations (HDOs) need to be more consumer-focused.

HDOs are also changing to address evolving compliance regulatory risks, achieve economic benefits from acquisitions and consolidations and drive out higher operational efficiencies. The Digital Healthcare business model is aimed at providing coordinated care delivery in a connected consumer delivery method by using collaborative and flexible systems which leverage information and communication while meeting compliance and regulatory requirements.

In fact, as the concept of Digital Healthcare continues to rise, acquisitions in related software and hardware companies continue to increase as HDOs recognize the value of developing an agile, integrated and patient-centered healthcare ecosystem:

With 37 Digital Healthcare related acquisitions in 2015 and 45 similar acquisitions in 2016, the race for HDOs to provide Digital Healthcare is on the rise. (Source MobiHealthNews, Dec 2016)

In order to meet the needs of the emerging Digital Healthcare business model, HDOs must move toward technology services which are quicker, cheaper, more flexible, integrated, secure and customer focused. Over the next 5 years, technology and services providers working with HDOs must focus on driving solutions and services targeted at driving transformation:

  • Integration of Acquisitions and Peripherals: HDOs must have strong integration plans and solutions in place.
  • Modernization of Systems and Patient Services: HDOs must modernize their systems and patient services.
  • Security of Personal Medical Data and Management of Assets: HDOs must have tough security and asset management practices in place.

Integration of Acquisitions and Peripherals

HDOs must have strong integration plans and solutions in place.

Digital Healthcare acquisitions are up year over year, with 2016 proving to be a record year. Strong integration plans between company systems needs to be a top consideration in order to drive out operational costs and deliver seamless solutions while storing and sharing common data. In addition, integration with other outside suppliers and third parties can drive high value in areas such as compliance and regulations, asset safety & recalls, maintenance, etc.

The market for peripherals is hot. Millions of new devices are resonating with consumers and coming online every year, like FitBit. This connectivity is resulting in an explosion of digital data and is enabling people to interact with the machines and with each other in ways as never before. Peripherals such as wearables and intelligent medical devices (i.e., pacemakers) will soon be expected by the consumers to be integrated and leveraged as part of the seamless services delivered by HDOs.

Gartner predicts that “By 2019, wearable devices plus Internet of Things (IoT) platforms will be used to monitor at least 30% of hip and knee replacement patients.”

Modernization of Systems and Patient Services

HDOs must modernize their systems and patient services.

In order for HDOs to compete, they will need to efficiently capture, store, share and parse out data across patients, healthcare facilities and associated third parties, as well as comply with legal and regulatory requirements. This modernization of systems requires a strong data and compliance backbone which will also drive the need for companies to put in place a robust strategic information governance and tactical management of data. Expect Chief Data Officer roles to be in high demand with HDOs in the near future.

The delivery method of healthcare services to the consumer also requires an overhaul. Today consumers expect a convenient, customized, non-stop experience when they shop – and this includes shopping for healthcare services. HDOs will need to develop ways to deliver superior Customer Focused Services such as way-finding technologies, which will sense, collect and analyze event information to guide patients from their home through the entire continuum of care. Consumer Focused Services will become a key market differentiator for the Healthcare industry.

Security of Personal Medical Data and Management of Assets

HDOs must have tough security and asset management practices in place.

Reuters reports that “medical information is worth 10 times more than your credit card number on the black market.”

Your Personal Medical Data is more valuable than your credit card data. This includes information such as names, birth dates, policy numbers, diagnosis codes and billing information. This data is used to create fake IDs to buy medical equipment or drugs that can be resold, or they combine a patient number with a false provider number and file made-up claims with insurers. Since health care services and billing have much longer lag times and less real time monitoring than credit cards, it is much harder to immediately detect these kinds of fraudulent charges. HDOs will need to step up their security game to ensure that data is secure and services provided are well-monitored.

The increasingly complex and integrated Digital Healthcare ecosystem – Clinics, Labs, Hospitals, Medical Devices, Pharmacies and associated peripherals – will require strong Asset Management to ensure security and operational efficiency. Many HDOs have mandates to improve the productivity of their mission critical assets, simplify the service request process, improve equipment safety and uptime and deliver better patient care. Better insights will be needed into the relative value, safety, performance, reliability and cost of medical assets and to address compliance and safety reporting requirements. An up to date Asset Inventory of Medical, Lab, Facilities and other mission critical assets and the ability to automate updates, system checks and other mandated asset compliance requirements will be key for building a solid Asset Management Practice.

Conclusion

We are years away from walking into a medical facility like the one we see in the movies. However, it is closer to becoming a reality as technology modernizes, integrates and shares data across a complex ecosystem. As the rise of Digital Healthcare continues, HDOs will need to focus on leveraging technologies and services which are quicker, cheaper, more flexible, integrated, secure and customer focused in order to meet the needs of this emerging business model.

 

Kathleen Lietz is a Principal Advisor at Fruition Partners, a CSC Company with over 23 years of experience leading a broad range of IT practices at Fortune 500 companies.