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Digital Innovation Reshaping Healthcare: What’s Next?


Healthcare is going digital and there is no turning back. Technology will only become more advanced, so we can either adapt and stay at the forefront of that change, or we can be stubborn in our current ways and get left behind.

On Dec. 9, 2019, Boston hosted its third annual Digital Health Innovation Summit at Mandarin Oriental Hotel, which brought together stakeholders from across the health industry that are invested in digital health’s transformation of medicine and care delivery.

The Promise of Digitization in Healthcare

Digitizing healthcare has brought a lot of opportunity. The increased access to health data has given us more concrete ways to identify problems and measure a solution’s impact. The sharing of health information has allowed care to be more coordinated and comprehensive. Data can be fed back into the system to grow the database. And the more data there are, the more an artificial intelligence model can learn and the more solutions can be customized.

As Sumit Nagpal, chairman and co-founder of CareFully, an alternate to hospital care, said, “We can predict people’s needs before they know they need it.”

Investors are picking up on this movement and trying to help propel creative ideas into reality.

Stakeholders Must Collaborate on Tech, Health Efforts

Historically, many innovations have been solutions looking for problems. There is an assumption that technology itself is the solution, but one must understand the needs of the health system in order to create ways to meet them. Clinical and community leaders must be at the table because they live and breathe the system in which others are trying to innovate. They see the impact of healthcare on patients, caregivers and providers on a first-hand basis, so they can better evaluate the value of a solution beyond its bottom line.

One trend health systems in the U.S. have been embracing is integrating “value-based” care into practice. Spending more to do more hasn’t resulted in better outcomes, so thought leaders have tried to find ways to reward mitigating this excessive spend. There is a need to organize around teams to build a system of care that integrates all aspects of health, from ensuring access to nutritious foods to affordable housing. Those who invest in the social determinants of health are getting it right.

The reality is that our system has been so fragmented for so long that the industry has created divided silos of care that do not communicate. This has taken away the incentive for innovative companies and organizations to share their successes As a panel on value-based healthcare adoption argued, stakeholders must share their ideas through partnership, not competition.

“Our biggest competitor is the status quo,”Glen Tullman, executive chairman of Livongo, said.

Companies are starting to define healthcare in a consumer-focused way and put health back into the hands of the patient. With patients paying higher deductibles, there is greater incentive for the adoption of tech solutions because the consumer must front a greater portion of their health costs. Healthcare has always been something that is done to us, but today, the industry can empower patients with technology and enable them to help themselves. Using digital health solutions the industry can bring care to where patients live, work and play.

Technology is a powerful vehicle to deliver solutions, but it is equally important to emphasize moving healthcare forward as a team, made up of patients, providers, business leaders and the community. Innovation has power through the spreading of wealth and knowledge, and industry leaders need to continue to come together to help this digital movement push forward . Healthcare is always evolving, and it is both exciting and necessary to bring together all the bright minds that are in this fight to make our health system a stronger and more united one.

About the Author: Caroline Yang, M.D., is an Internal Medicine physician at Brown University with an interest in the intersection of medicine, health policy and innovation. Her clinical insight and understanding of the business of medicine gives her unique perspective on the exciting advances within medical practice and the healthcare industry.

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