Overcoming the hurdles to value-based healthcare
Health treatments, detections and predictions are getting better thanks to the plethora of data now available. From phenomics and genomics to information from environment, social media and mobile apps there has been a surge in health-related data.
Internet of Things (IoT) technology is also emerging as a new support for citizen’s health. Growth in mobile and internet users, as well as the miniaturization and declining costs of sensors and other devices are helping people to engage in the proactive management of their own health. In fact, 85% of doctors say that the use of wearable sensors is helping patients.
All of this data is leading to faster and better patient outcomes and more precision in medicine with treatments tailored to individual cases. It will also – eventually - lead to more sustainable and efficient healthcare systems.
To sum up, progresses in healthcare and medicine thanks to the growing availability of data are to be celebrated. However, to appreciate these benefits, there are first (several) issues to overcome.
Although many of these issues are of a technical nature, most challenges have to do with non-technical aspects.
The explosion of data – from numerous different sources – requires careful management. Healthcare practices will need to store, manage and analyze this information. Ideally, organizations will also want to be able to share this data with different health institutions and functions. The link between health services and community care needs to be stronger in order to provide a better and more efficient service. In addition to this, a new approach is required to support fluid communication as well as manage issues around organizational trust and governance.
It is also going to be important for health trusts and hospitals to future-proof their technology to allow for data sharing and gathering between different data sources and health institutions. A recent Gartner report suggests that multiple technical solutions can co-exist as long as there remains a minimum level of interoperability.
The challenge of data management, digital systems and analysis of patient health, are expected to be the most vital driver of the health market during the next decades. In fact, the global eHealth market is expected to reach EUR 278 billion by 2022[i]. Within 10 years, it is likely that nearly 100% of healthcare providers will be operating with new digital ecosystems[ii]. This transition is expected to be gradual and will start from their current Information System.
Among the potential solutions, the most affordable are those built over current ICT Hospital systems, avoiding the substitution of an entire Hospital Information System. However, the next generation of solutions that will have a higher penetration will be those based on the "real-time health system" (RTHS) model[iii].
This new technical and operational paradigm will require root and branch changes within healthcare systems. Over the next few decades the way healthcare systems work are likely to change beyond recognition. For the better. Connecting the different parts of the healthcare and social care system, as well as the patient, and enhancing the communication and collaboration within healthcare institutions are crucial aspects to be considered.
Society is on the brink of a revolution in providing value-based healthcare. The main hurdle is ensuring the right vision and leadership is established, to build the technical infrastructure and promote the organizational changes needed to deliver new digital and data enhanced healthcare services.
[i] eHealth Market Research Report (Grand View Research, Inc.; April 2016)
[ii] 2017 CIO Agenda: A Healthcare Perspective (Gartner; February 2017)
[iii] Industry Vision: The Real-Time Health System (Gartner; May 2016)