Four healthcare IT lessons from Dreamforce 2014

Four healthcare IT lessons from Dreamforce 2014

You’d be hard-pressed to find a healthcare organization today that is not experiencing some level of digital disruption. Patients are more tech-savvy than ever. They’re looking for healthcare organizations to provide services that are as simple to use as online shopping sites. Meanwhile, healthcare organizations are facing competition from startups that are shaking up the status quo. And there’s a movement afoot to shift the entire healthcare system from one that is focused on acute care to one that is marked by a continuity of personalized care.

These and other topics were discussed in a series of healthcare-related sessions Monday and Tuesday during Salesforce’s Dreamforce 2014 conference in San Francisco. Healthcare providers, medical device manufacturers, data analytics firms, and research analysts shared their perspectives and real-world experiences at the forefront of an industry in flux. Taken separately, their efforts reflect the piecemeal pace at which the healthcare industry is being transformed. Looked at collectively, these four highlights represent innovative efforts that give us a glimpse of where healthcare IT is headed in the near future.

1. Big Bang disruption is headed your way.
This is a model of industry transformation put forth by Accenture analyst Brian Kalis. He explained the concept like so: New players enter a market with products or services that are simultaneously better, cheaper, and more customized than those offered by incumbent companies.

The Big Bang disruption model is driven by key technologies that Kalis said offer rapid improvements in price and platforms: mobility, cloud, analytics, genomics, and imaging. These technologies are empowering consumers in unprecedented ways, and healthcare is failing to meet the expectations of its consumers, according to Kalis: “Healthcare consumers expect seamless retail-like experiences but are currently underserved by the health industry. Big Bang disruptors are emerging to meet unmet needs.”

Kalis cited Oscar Health as an example of a Big Bang disruptor. The New York City-based health insurance service has signed up 17,000 members in its first year, primarily by putting the user experience first, according to Kalis. Oscar links with existing insurance providers, and its key differentiator is in the user interface it’s created that makes customer interactions as seamless as possible.

So what can incumbents do to avoid being usurped by Big Bang disruptors in healthcare? Kalis recommends that healthcare IT leaders build new systems from the ground up with a modern technology stack that incorporates mobile, social, analytics, and the cloud, and focus first on the customer experience above all else.

2. Build a health relationship platform.
Multiple healthcare and life science executives repeated this refrain, emphasizing the need to find and treat patients before they reach the point of hospitalization. In the US, “We have a healthcare system designed to put people in hospital beds,” said AG Breitenstein, co-founder and chief product officer of Optum Analytics. “We need to get away from focusing on the point of care to focusing on the point of need.” Translation: Creating a system designed to keep patients out of hospital beds by using analytics to identify at-risk populations and help them manage their conditions at home long before they reach an acute stage.

This is what Raboud UMC in The Netherlands has developed, in collaboration with Philips, to manage care for patients with COPD. According to Lucien Engelen, director of Raboud UMC’s Reshape Center, a patient who is first diagnosed with COPD is sent home with a remote monitoring kit that includes a tablet and a smart patch connected to the patient’s chest. For the next week, the smart patch monitors the patient 24/7. The data is sent into the doctor’s office, and is also presented in a way that the patient can understand and share with family or caregivers. The system uses Philips Healthsuite data cloud, with Salesforce used to execute the charts and digital displays for the patient and physicians.

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