By Alison N. Haughton, MA/MS and Jikku Venkat, Ph.D
Hospitals are evolving. Between a variety of factors like a shortage of providers, chronically ill individuals living longer and old workflows that are no longer suitable for the modern healthcare landscape, hospitals must rethink how they operate to survive.
Information technology, specifically digital, is playing a big role in this transformation. Time and time again, health IT has shown it is a reliable, real-world solution that can address many common obstacles. With the right health IT solutions, hospitals can tackle regulated problems—specifically operational efficiency, with scalability, flexibility and innovation.
This trend, known as Hospital 4.0, is powered by the convergence of emerging IT like the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), big data and augmented/virtual reality as well as the broader shift toward delivering proactive, value-based care. This new approach enables providers to effectively reduce costs and improve the quality and efficiency of patient care, and also opens the path to a provider-patient-centric care model. Hospital 4.0 will enable healthcare executives and care providers to work in concert to improve operational efficiencies and drive better clinical outcomes.
Healthcare executives are using IT solutions and platforms rich with analytics to improve care coordination and remove administrative redundancies and inefficiencies. With the prodigious amount of data in IT, healthcare and life science decision makers are rethinking how to collect, store and use data to personalize the provider-patient experience.
In the last few years, a number of healthcare organizations have reaped dividends by implementing mobile applications to improve care coordination, drive adherence, reduce avoidable medical errors and foster cross-clinical collaboration. Digital apps not only simplify and automate many tasks (like finding doctors or understanding insurance coverage), but also enable payers, providers and pharma to address rising costs by creating new workflows to address organizational and clinical gaps.
Take, for example, patient scheduling. No-shows are one of the biggest drivers of increased healthcare costs, with data from NHS Digital revealing that missed appointments cost general practices more than 1.2 million billable hours every year. By applying machine learning technologies and artificial intelligence (and wrapping it all into an easy-to-use app), hospitals can foster patient adherence while strategically scheduling appointments to maximize revenue.
While the convergence of new IT solutions is enabling hospitals to be innovative, a big obstacle still exists: infrastructure. Outdated facilities combined with a wide array of legacy solutions can be a major challenge for leveraging IT solutions to seamlessly maximize data assets and secure apps outside the four walls. With an increase in M&A activity, healthcare is faced with addressing how to seamlessly integrate disparate systems and platforms into new workflows and business models.
For healthcare CIOs making the case to go through an extensive digital transformation process, modernizing their infrastructure can look cost prohibitive at first glance. Between modernizing facilities and solutions, maintaining compliance, finding the right digital talent and trying to balance HIT security spend, this evolution represents a substantial investment and a significant operational shift.
The key is approaching this project in a strategic way and realizing the long-term competitive advantages and cost savings of embracing modern infrastructure. For example, moving to a secure, enterprise cloud with digital capabilities can lower total cost of ownership, improve system performance, drive innovation and improve collaboration.
IT cloud solutions with deep analytical capabilities can be a catalyst that will help hospitals capitalize on emerging technologies and transition to a modern, reliable infrastructure.
With nearly 18 years of Healthcare IT product marketing experience, Alison Nicole Haughton has worked across the continuum of healthcare for companies such as IMS Health, Harvard Medical School, Parexel, and a variety of early stage healthcare companies implementing m-Health clinical. Ms. Haughton received her bachelor’s degree from American University and master’s from Tufts University School of Medicine/Emerson College.
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