The 8 coolest things in healthcare

From artificial intelligence writing patient portal messages for physicians to "hospital rooms of the future" equipped with voice assistants and video-based care, there are a lot of cool things in healthcare nowadays. But which are actually making a difference in the lives of patients and healthcare workers?

Becker's asked health system digital and innovation chiefs from around the country to describe the coolest things in healthcare right now — and they didn't only have to involve technology. Here are their responses, listed in alphabetical order.

1. ARPA-H, aka the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health. The Economist described the legendary DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) as the "agency that shaped the modern world." It is beyond cool to think that same brilliant engine has finally arrived full time in healthcare as ARPA-H. While innovation is at the core of American healthcare, there are countless diseases and communities the current healthcare innovation system does not reach. The scale, rigor and convening power of a national organization bringing the same resources and approach of DARPA tops the cool chart. If ARPA-H captures that lightning, America can be a far healthier place in the future. — Chris Coburn, chief innovation officer of Somerville, Mass.-based Mass General Brigham.

2. Collaboration. COVID taught us that we need to work together, assembling curated real-world evidence, emerging AI tools, and computing power to create breakthrough innovation. 2023 has been a remarkable year of scale as government, academia and industry partnered to assemble deidentified data, guidelines and guardrails for the safe use of AI, and novel products that augment human care delivery. Working together on the hardest healthcare problems — that's cool. — John Halamka, MD, president of Rochester, Minn.-based Mayo Clinic Platform.

3. The focus on behavioral health. I think the coolest thing in healthcare is the elevated focus on behavioral health from systems, payers and the entrepreneurial community. For too long, physical and behavioral health were separated and siloed. The industry is finally coming to the realization that health needs to be holistic, and for many patients behavioral health is their most important focus. — Rich Roth, senior vice president and chief strategic innovation officer of Chicago-based CommonSpirit Health.

4. Futuristic hospital rooms. Hospital rooms of the future are here now and designed around the patient and not the business. The patient walks into the room and is welcomed with their name on the TV and the digital whiteboard. Technology such as Alexa greets the patient and informs them of different services it can perform for them just by asking. The room can go into awake mode by a command, and the shades will rise up and the lights, TV and digital whiteboard will turn on. They can see their diagnosis and read up on patient education curated for them. They now see a picture of their care team and are alerted when they walk into the room, so they know who everyone is. They can view their menu and order food just by speaking. They can be entertained or have a positive distraction on their over-the-bed table. They can video conference with a loved one, their primary physician or a virtual nurse if they have any questions or concerns and not have to wait a few days in some cases. A translator can be brought in instantly on the screen to translate a conversation with the staff. — Mohamed Salem, executive director of digital IT innovation at University of Miami Health System.

5. Large language models such as GPT-4. These technologies still have a way to go, but I am heartened by the potential of LLMs learning from our clinical data and then disseminating that captured expertise to many more patients than have the privilege of waiting in our waiting room. In this way, pushing forward in LLMs and in artificial intelligence is going to be our way of creating "scalable privilege." — Atul Butte, MD, PhD, chief data scientist of Oakland, Calif.-based University of California Health.

6. The shift from patient-centered care to "patient-empowered" care. This is happening in many ways, big and small, such as the 21st Century Cures Act, wearables, remote patient monitoring, virtual care, online scheduling and even invitations to directly contribute to their medical records. Patients also have more choices outside of the traditional healthcare system to get the care they want when they want it. This consumer-minded shift (thank you, Amazon!) will motivate health systems to break away from conventional models towards ones that empower patients with the resources and motivation to live healthier lives. — Nancy Cibotti, MD, chief innovation officer at Cambridge, Mass.-based Beth Israel Lahey Health.

7. Shreya Kangovi's IMPaCT program. Dr. Kangovi, the CEO of IMPaCT Care and a former University of Pennsylvania medical professor, completely redesigned community health worker programs to arrive at a strongly evidence-based intervention that avoids more than half of prior hospital days, improves chronic disease outcomes and saves thousands of dollars per patient per year. Most pundits didn't think her results were possible given the complexity of social determinants, but after multiple randomized controlled trials, Shreya and her team truly achieved results that can fundamentally change healthcare. — Roy Rosin, chief innovation officer of Philadelphia-based Penn Medicine.

8. Software that actually makes a difference. RPA (robotic process automation) to help with pre-authorization, pre-registration for our patients, ambient technology that records a doctor's appointment and creates notes in the EHR, gen AI that helps review and write inbox message replies — we are finding ways to really harness technology and make technology work for us instead of being more work. — Crystal Broj, chief digital transformation officer of Charleston, S.C.-based MUSC Health.

Copyright © 2024 Becker's Healthcare. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy. Cookie Policy. Linking and Reprinting Policy.


Featured Whitepapers

Featured Webinars