How healthcare services are getting smarter in the digital era

In today’s world ‘patient cycle time’ doesn’t start with a visit to a doctor’s clinic or a hospital and ends when the treatment stops.

It starts right from the time patients start researching on their ailments’ symptoms on the internet, look for doctors’ reviews online and book appointments on an app. And, this cycle goes on till patients get post-treatment consultations from their doctors via a chatbot or a chatting app like Messenger.

Digital technologies, especially in the area of Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud (SMAC), are helping in transforming the healthcare domain into an efficient, cost-effective, transparent and customized service.

Here is a round-up of some of the digital platforms that are helping the industry:

Social Media

With the growing popularity of social media, the healthcare industry is leveraging the medium for the benefit of both doctors and patients. The number of networking sites focussing on healthcare sites has increased over the years.

For instance, SERMO an app exclusively for physicians calls itself as the #number 1 – doctors-only global social network!

The site enables physicians to connect and discuss, ask questions and collaborate on various healthcare related topics. What is interesting is that the platform also pays the healthcare intelligentsia for the knowledge they share on the platform. Last year, SERMO paid out $16 million to doctors worldwide

SERMO

Image source: SERMO

Another interesting platform in this area is DailyRounds. This platform is inspired by the ‘Stack Overflow’ tool that developers use to teach their peers from various organizations on how they accomplished their goals on a particular project. Similarly, DailyRounds helps doctors to share their knowledge through their case files. Medical professionals on this platform can also access a vast database of drugs prepared by physicians & pharmacologists. The app contains 2000+ molecules and 10K+ brands.

DailyRounds

Image source: DailyRounds

Not just doctors, there are such networking sites for patients as well which help them to connect with doctors and also patients facing similar ailments.

PatientTalk.com is one such web portal, which leverages the power of video to engage with patients. It is a healthcare website for patients diagnosed with life-altering medical conditions, both acute and chronic. This network-quality video site features actual patients and healthcare professionals sharing vital information about the practical, physical and emotional issues that patients face before, during and after initial diagnosis.

Further, patients share a lot of personal data on social networking sites like Facebook. Owing to this access of data, the social media giant has decided to venture into the healthcare sector in two areas – mental health and clinical trials, by monitoring users’ online behaviour to detect any depression-related symptoms, using AI. Facebook is also planning to work with drug companies and help them recruit people for clinical trials by monitoring online groups where people discuss their ailments and symptoms.

Mobile

The integration of mobile into people’s daily lives has made mHealth a critical aspect of the healthcare industry. It helps in making healthcare effective and accessible for patients. While patients can monitor their health through various apps and wearable devices, doctors can use this range of data to make better treatment decisions. Further, mobile technology also helps doctors and physicians with critical information about treatment procedures, drugs, etc.

An example of such an app is Epocrates – a point of care medical app by Athena, which helps doctors with the above information. The app is easy to navigate and helps physicians and doctors with a wide range of features like:

  • Reviewing drug prescription and safety information for thousands of brand, generic, and OTC drugs
  • Checking for potentially harmful drug-drug interactions among up to 30 drugs at a time
  • Identifying pills by imprint code and physical characteristics
  • Access timely medical news and research information
  • Find providers for consults and referrals in the Provider Directory
  • Select national and regional healthcare insurance formularies for drug coverage information
  • Perform dozens of calculations, such as BMI and GFR

Epocrates

Image source: Epocrates

Another app that is making healthcare services more accessible for patients is Practo. This platform is a one-stop-solution for all the healthcare-related needs for patients, whether it is assessing health issues, finding the right doctor, booking diagnostic tests, obtaining medicines, storing health records or learning new ways to live healthier. Practo also helps doctors build their presence, grow establishments and engage patients more deeply than ever.

Practo

Image source: Practo

Analytics

Big Data and Analytics can help doctors and physicians in many ways. Analytics helps them with evidence-based understanding and systematically view clinical data while making treatment decisions, and not depend on their judgement alone.

However, in this age of data deluge, it is critical for healthcare organizations to make sense of this data. Real-time Health Systems (RTHS) are helping healthcare organizations to do that by converting this data into valuable knowledge or insights. For instance, when patient’s Electronic Medical Records and behavior analysis are combined, it can help in understanding how perceptive measures create a patient response, identify methods to improve patient adherence to treatment etc.

Further, analytics can help healthcare enterprises determine the most effective treatments, low-cost medications and also provide real-time decisions support for patients. Analytics can also help the R&D process for the life sciences industry by synthesizing treatment outcomes, genomics and behaviors of a patient group or sample, and develop personalized and highly efficient treatment solutions.

Further, owing to this democratization of data, not just Facebook (as mentioned earlier), but other tech giants like Apple, Amazon and Google are ready to disrupt the healthcare segment with some exciting projects.

Apple

Apple has been a pioneer in healthcare technology. Starting from the launch of its HealthKit application programming interface in 2014 to launch of Apple Watch and collaboration with various healthcare start-ups, Apple is revolutionizing the healthcare landscape in myriads of ways. Apple Watch has already progressed by notches in monitoring health-related metrics of users. Last year, Apple was awarded a patent for a very clever way of measuring blood pressure with a Watch. A recent study also proved that Apple Watch Accessory, KardiaBand, can accurately detect Atrial Fibrillations.

Recently Apple announced its primary health clinics named AC Wellness. These clinics will aim at providing patients with healthcare experience enabled by technology. Also, the unit will be used to test Apple’s healthcare-related technologies.

In our article – ‘How technology is transforming the healthcare landscape’ we detail out how Apple has contributed to transforming the healthcare segment. Read the article here.

Google

Alphabet, Google’s parent company has recently branded its life sciences unit as ‘Verily’. The unit has already partnered with multiple pharmaceutical and biotech companies to develop technologies and tools. Google has also invested in a Google DeepMind project to explore how machine learning can be used to analyze eye scans.

Amazon

Amazon’s foray into healthcare has long been speculated. In January this year, the e-commerce titan confirmed its entrance into the healthcare sector by announcing an alliance with Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase. The three companies have announced that they will set up an independent healthcare company for their employees in the US. The aim is to provide their employees with easy and cost-effective health insurance and medical facilities. One of the biggest advantages that Amazon has is Lex AI, the artificial intelligence that supports Alexa and Echo, the platform can make a big difference to medical devices and robotics. Further, the wealth of data that it captures about consumers can benefit the industry by leaps and bounds.

According to an HBR report

Hospitals make huge investments in creating and maintaining electronic medical records (EMRs). Many hospitals are also adopting real-time location systems to track the movement of people and equipment throughout their facilities. These pieces of information, all of which are collected by the simple movement of people and equipment through established workflows, can be helpful in improving operational execution of the complex services provided in many healthcare settings. To the extent that the technology Amazon developed for Amazon Go can be turned to services beyond grocery shopping, healthcare may be one of the early beneficiaries.

Cloud

With the immense amount of patient data generated across mediums – medical history database, mobile apps, wearables, social networking sites etc. It has also become critical to managing this data well. Maintaining this data on a Cloud platform helps healthcare enterprises to manage and keep this data in an organized format. Further, it helps doctors and nurses to access and analyze this data anywhere anytime. Further, hosting databases on the Cloud also lowers down the cost of IT Infrastructure.

Cloud-based systems make the payment and billing process easier for patients and help them manage their health expenses. InstaMed is one such cloud-based platform that helps in billing and payments. For patients, it provides an app where they can pay, access and manages their bills. For healthcare enterprises, it helps in automating the accounts receivable process; accelerating the entire billing cycle and simplifying the process.

In conclusion:

When it comes to deploying SMAC technologies, healthcare enterprises should work towards implementing these technologies across their functions from capturing data, storing it and sharing the information, that is when the full value of the SMAC will be realized. In the coming years as technologies improve, SMAC will become more integral to the healthcare ecosystem, and the investments required to deploy these systems will also reduce.

In our ebook – ‘Digital Transformation in healthcare – the evolving landscape‘, we detail out how technology is transforming the healthcare ecosystem. Download the ebook here.

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Surabhi Ghosh Chatterjee Surabhi Ghosh Chatterjee is our soft spoken Marketing Communications Manager with an extensive experience in B2B marketing in the tech domain.

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