Blog AI & ML

An Expert Take on the Future of Technology in Healthcare: Q&A with Healthcare Sales Director

Lauren Farah Manager, Vertical Solutions Marketing Published 9 May 2019

Technology innovations in healthcare continue to evolve every day, aimed at improving the patient and clinician experience while bettering the bottom line. With technologies like AR/VR, robotics, IoMT and becoming an everyday part of the modern hospital, it’s clear that investing in tools and technologies on an ongoing basis is key to healthcare transformation.

There are so many changes on the horizon to stay ahead of, plus the many methods healthcare is using to harness the power of technology today. I sat down with industry expert, Matt McNeel, Extreme’s Director of Healthcare Sales, to uncover insights on the future of healthcare, as well as a few best practices organizations,  should be using today to stay future-focused.

 “Broader healthcare industry transformation is accelerating to full speed, with acquisitions, shifting value propositions, blurring industry lines and financial conditions.” – Gartner, 2019 CIO Agenda: Healthcare Provider Industry Insights

Question 1: There’s no denying that technology has led to enhanced patient and clinician experiences, as well as better business outcomes. Based on your experience working in the industry, what are the most exciting tech changes you’re seeing in healthcare?

The IoMT explosion is certainly an exciting development. These devices are providing enriched information about the care or service that a patient is consuming. By harnessing the power of IoMT, caregiver teams can gain greater insight into the best treatment and care plans for their patients through remote monitoring and trending of accurate real-time data. Plus, patients today can participate more directly in their own care as a result.

Patient treatment is being moved into the community, which is beneficial in terms of the business side of healthcare, as well as the goals of The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS.) The shift is allowing for improved population health services, including treatment of chronic conditions with aging patients. It’s important to note that since IoMT has become an everyday part of healthcare, secure delivery and integrity of healthcare infrastructure is critical.

The move toward real-time health systems is also an exciting change. Essentially, RTHS is the collection and processing of real-time data derived from all available sensors/inputs within a healthcare delivery organization (HDO.)

RTHS gives HDOs the power to deliver healthcare services to patients in a more personalized, timely manner. Integrating information and learning from many sources improves the delivery of care significantly from an operations standpoint. It also guides care teams towards the best possible treatment path.

Question 2: How are the changes impacting patients, clinicians, and staff? How are business operations impacted?

Patients

The focus in healthcare is called quadruple aim. Changes in technology must deliver on four outcomes:

    • Improved patient experience
    • Reduced costs
    • Improved population health
    • Clinical experience

Healthcare has become much more consumer-focused than it was in the past. Engagement with healthcare organizations is largely controlled by patients. As a result, healthcare organizations are facilitating that engagement in a more transparent, accessible fashion, using:

    • Patient portals
    • Self-scheduling
    • Online lab result delivery
    • Email and chat sessions with physicians

The goal is to create a convenient, interactive engagement experience with treatment teams. This makes it possible for patients to consume services tailored their lifestyle, bringing greater overall satisfaction.

Clinicians and staff

When it comes to clinicians and staff, changes in technology are aimed at delivering more convenient services that enable them to focus exclusively on patients. Technology and applications shouldn’t be their concern. Clinical staff who have positive experience supporting technology generally have higher productivity and greater interaction with the patient. Greater interaction and focus also lead to positive experiences for the patient. 

In addition, many of the changes in the clinical space are focused on making staff workflows as simple as possible, reducing alarm fatigue and extraneous information. 

Business operations

Technology should enable organizations to be agile through elastic services that can be deployed or withdrawn securely, quickly, and in alignment with business needs. Successful operations supported by the right technology should deliver:

    • Timely revenue realization
    • Reduced billing disputes
    • Effective scheduling and staffing of resources
    • Greater utilization of physical assets from general equipment to specialized surgical suites

Question 3: In the recent Gartner report, 2019 CIO Agenda: Healthcare Provider Industry Insights, IT leaders cited revenue/business growth and digital transformation as their top priorities for 2019. Is this consistent with what you’re observing in the field, and do you believe these priorities go hand in hand?

Revenue and business growth are by far the most impactful, top-of-mind initiatives for healthcare executives. The financial and regulatory mandates have a tremendous impact on healthcare delivery organizations today:

    • 18% of U.S. GDP is spent on healthcare and continues to rise (CMS).
    • Both Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) and HHS are calling for reimbursement rates to reflect performance based on safety, quality, and to some degree, patient experiences. 

Revenue generation and/or cost reduction are the key factors that directly impact the bottom line. Consequently, these changes are necessary to address the lack of capital funding for HDOs to focus on population health and other initiatives. 

In terms of regulatory mandates, safety and quality through the reduction of readmissions and consumer value versus transactional volume are primary drivers for change. There are hundreds of initiatives on HHS’ five-year strategic roadmap for healthcare.  At the same time, the current regulations landscape is a primary concern associated with business growth for executives.

Digital transformation is necessary for healthcare organizations to remain competitive and secure new business, including patients and other business relationships. Digital transformation and technology maturity are necessary investments for supporting all the evolving needs we’ve discussed. For HDOs to realize efficiencies of scale and operational effectiveness, digital technologies must be deployed. Successful digital transformation in healthcare delivers these key outcomes:

    • Situational awareness and intelligence for management and operations
    • New clinical, management, and operational capabilities
    • Leverage data-driven intelligence to provide orchestration of clinical and business activities

Question 4: Can you describe some of the technologies healthcare organizations are implementing in their facilities to deliver an enhanced patient experience?

AR/VR, smart building, IoT/IoMT, and robotics just scratch the surface. There’s no shortage of innovative technologies in healthcare. Rather, the challenge is ensuring these technologies have a robust foundation that can securely support services. Smart facilities, intelligent surgical robots, enhanced patient outreach, and remote patient monitoring are all very attractive features to a healthcare organization. 

IoT and the endless possibilities that it offers is particularly exciting. The services IoT devices provide through collection of patient care information or operations support are expanding every day. Part of digital transformation is deploying these sensors, ensuring that their use is safe and effective, and providing a positive patient experience with quality outcomes. Cybersecurity within healthcare must be considered part of the digital transformation in order to support these new initiatives safely.

Subscribe Now!

Question 5: Do you consider enhancing the clinician and staff experience to be equally as important as enhancing the patient experience? Why? What specific technologies are having the greatest impact in this area?

Yes, they’re absolutely of equal importance. The clinical staff have an incredibly difficult job to do every day, so it’s important to continually evaluate technologies, processes, and workflows that will make their job easier and more effective. Alarm fatigue and heavy workloads are a primary concern. 

An effective RTHS integrates four key platforms:

Experience platform

    • Patients and caregivers
    • Interactive patient care
    • Portals
    • Online and digital delivery of services

Ecosystems platform

    • Health network services
    • Alliances
    • Third parties
    • System level data interchange (data exchanges, interface/integration engines, API management platforms, and third parties)

Information systems platform

    • Clinicians
    • Associates and staff
    • Includes the IT portfolio of the organization (EMR/EHRs), patient management, revenue cycle, and financial systems)
    • Provides provisioned IT services and clinical and business value (applications for administrative, business, and clinical capabilities)

IoT platform

    • Monitors
    • Instruments
    • Medical devices
    • Provides for connected devices which offer data and telemetry information for patient care delivery services

Data and analytics platform

The data and analytics platform is the RTHS engine which encapsulates and consumes information from the four platforms above, using all available current and real-time information to guide and direct patient services teams and associated business operations.

Question 6: How critical is an autonomous network for supporting and enabling healthcare organizations in their digital transformations?

 An autonomous network is going to be the most critical technology for healthcare organizations moving forward. It’s the foundation of all successful digital transformation initiatives that lead to significant cost reductions in network operational budgets.

Question 7: You mentioned that IoT is transforming healthcare, but also increasing security and patient safety concerns. How can healthcare organizations protect themselves? What technology and networking best practices do you recommend?

Defense in depth is key for successful security protection. Healthcare organizations need a layered security environment that enforces a zero trust policy with the right balance of network segmentation, policy, and firewall enforcement. Enhancements to this layered approach can be achieved with hypersegmentation and single hop visibility coupled with IoMT wired/wireless endpoint protection, further decreasing the healthcare threat vector.

Question 8: How would you describe the future of healthcare in one word?

Innovation, without question.

To expand on that, I think that several technology paradigm shifts are on the horizon for healthcare. Here’s how I’d summarize what’s coming up, current trends, and the future.

On the horizon:

    • Artificial intelligence evolvement in network decision making
    • Augmented/virtual reality

Current trends:

    • Continued adoption of telemedicine use for remote/home health
    • Increased wayfinding adoption to improve patient experiences
    • Virtual network expansion, which is poised to significantly impact operational improvement and spend
    • IoMT and automated security improvements

Future focuses:

    • Robotic care
    • Nanorobots
    • 3D printing

To learn more about how an autonomous network can help organizations achieve digital transformation, check out our blog The Future of Networking: The Autonomous Network.

Related Healthcare Stories