Consumerism, value-based care and the supply chain: How 4 disruptive technologies are changing healthcare

The healthcare industry is changing. To keep pace with trends such as the shift to value-based care and increased consumerism, it's incumbent upon healthcare leaders to ensure their organizations are effectively taking advantage of emerging technologies to meet industry challenges.

During a Feb. 28 webinar hosted by Becker's Hospital Review and sponsored by Oracle, John Harvey, senior director, supply chain cloud transformation at Oracle, explored different ways hospitals and health systems can apply technology to better cater services to patients and tackle the demands growing consumerism and the expectations of younger patients.

"What is really shocking to me is that 52 percent of all patient transactions are already online, virtual or through an app," Mr. Harvey said. "The younger generation is looking to do more online, to look up their lab results, schedule all via technology versus calling in or depending on a scheduler to do that work for us."

As healthcare consumers increasingly expect convenient online interactions to be a part of the care experience, growth of virtual hospital and telehealth services will continue to increase. Mobile technology is the future, and it will open lots of easier access to services, Mr. Harvey said. He predicts mobile technology will drive everything, from patient services to employee and organization interactions. To get the most of mobile and online services, health systems should take advantage of disruptive technologies — technologies that alter the way business is conducted in healthcare — to drive that change.

During the webinar, Mr. Harvey discussed four disruptive technologies healthcare leaders should explore.

1. Autonomous capabilities allow health systems to implement databases that can automatically patch, upgrade and tune themselves while still operating. These abilities require less human intervention and downtime, allowing the organization more time to focus on tasks unrelated to scheduling or rerunning indexes within the database.

2. From remote patient monitoring to medication adherence, there is a wide berth of Internet of Health Things that has yet to be fully leveraged by health systems, Mr. Harvey said. For instance, asset monitoring could benefit from IoHT capabilities such as tagging items to help keep track of where products are stored.

"Caregivers spend about 20 percent of their shift looking for equipment," Mr. Harvey said. "If you're able to have all that equipment tagged, you can more readily find those things [such as pumps or patient beds] and know where they are, therefore giving your caregivers more time with the patient instead of trying to track down where a particular pump may be."

IoHT can also benefit the connectedness of workers. Oracle developers worked on a type of application that can be loaded on any device and would help direct new health system employees or residents through the facility, Mr. Harvey said. The same type of technology could also be applied to patients and their families who are trying to navigate around a health system they are unfamiliar with.

3. Blockchain is the most important technology for simplifying and improving security and accuracy of inefficient processes. The technology deploys four main uses for driving business value: tracking things of value, securing business-to-business integrations, providing secure and decentralized record storage and maintenance, and tracking the provenance of products and materials.

For example, blockchain can be effective when tracking medication adherence and history. Individuals with monthly subscriptions for medication refills can, "leverage [blockchain to] track and trace to check and see if the prescription even got shipped to the patient's house," Mr. Harvey said. "Then you can check if it was received, and therefore continue tracking it all the way back from the time it left your pharmacy to the time it arrived at the patient's door."

4. There are three core elements of artificial intelligence: adaptive intelligence apps, intelligent user interface and conversational agents, according to Mr. Harvey. Using these elements can help health systems take care of mundane tasks such as supply demand management, which could one day bring full automation to the supply chain.

"With adaptive intelligence or machine learning, the machine can look at the patterns much faster, so you don't even need someone to count that inventory," Mr. Harvey said. "That's a long ways [away], but that's where the technology is going."

AI also supports virtual assistants and chatbots, Mr. Harvey said. Conversational agents like virtual sales assistants, virtual service assistants and chatbots can be leveraged from cellphones to place orders or check employee data.

Transform business first

Because disruptive technologies have become more readily available, health system leaders can feel pressured to integrate the latest and most up-to-date technologies. However, using disruptive technologies is more about business transformation than it is about the technology itself. Keeping that in mind will help executives select the right technology solutions for their specific organization.

"When we talk about disruptive technologies, we need to really think about how we're going to change the way we work today versus the way we currently are doing things," Mr. Harvey said.

The goal of disruptive technologies is to ultimately free people from devices that slow them down, Mr. Harvey said. The shift to cellular, accompanied with disruptive technologies like AI, IoT, blockchain and autonomous capabilities, will help health systems transform their business models to be more accessible and adaptable to consumers.

To listen to the webinar, click here.

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