We’re undergoing a revolution in healthcare that started with the American Recovery Act in 2009. Good things can come from bad things, and near economic collapse gave us a reason to invest. The Act funded the switchover from paper to digital record-keeping and amazingly, there was quite a bit of resistance at first. Someday we’ll look back at the arguments against digitization and chuckle. But now that we’re under way, other exciting things are more than possible, they’re happening.
Nexus of healthcare forces
Just as Gartner talks about the Nexus of Forces – cloud, social, mobile and information – healthcare is experiencing its own “nexus” that includes a surge in mobile devices, the aforementioned rapid digitization, big data coming from people, their devices and sensors, real-time analytics and business events. Each is remarkable by itself, but together they are changing healthcare.
Healthcare on the move
Mobile devices are already providing healthcare solutions through things as simple as apps on iPhones that can provide ECG readings in the moment and over time (a historical record). This trend will continue as more apps, devices, and sensors are implemented, with the downside being lots more strain on existing infrastructure. Doctors are using tablets, patients are using apps, and everyone expects access to be readily available. They expect IT to resolve the security issues as quickly as they come up. Governance, security and easy provisioning are an expectation for someone else to resolve.
IT needs help figuring mobility out. Serious help.
Digitization has a massive side effect that wasn’t apparent to some in the early proposals. Big Data arrived at about the same time as digital healthcare, creating a remarkable opportunity for healthcare to see the previously unseen. Health networks can find surprising insight in their own data and in pooled data. We can look across any slice of demographic and disease and find the historically most effective treatments. We can see where heart bypass surgery is a more effective procedure than a stent and vice versa. It is less and less anecdotal evidence and more and more analytics-driven.
Doctors have always had to know an enormous amount of information. Visualization of data changes the doctor-patient relationship, putting much more power in the hands of the customer who can anywhere and anytime see who the best doctors are, what treatment effectiveness looks like and even shop for price for elective procedures.
Electronic Health Records (EHRs) allow us to store records digitally, but don’t necessarily make data available to be used in ways that can improve healthcare. This is where events come into play. Eventing systems allow certain data to be available, rather than locked down in silos, to compare and correlate.
As an example: We wrote about Mercy Health’s SafeWatch system that provides constant vigilance in Mercy’s cutting-edge sepsis prevention program. They’re early to the game of high-speed infrastructure, simplified integration, large amounts of data and powerful analytics to establish what matters most for delivering the best healthcare outcomes.
It may seem there are many ways to get to better outcomes, but there are few that are as effective (cost and capability) as a system that can do what Mercy Health is doing. We’re just around the corner from revolutionary changes that will shift healthcare irreversibly. The nexus of healthcare forces is a force to be reckoned with.