Like many industries, digital technologies have dramatically transformed how healthcare systems deliver effective and efficient patient care. From the first patient contact to backend operations, there is no process in healthcare that can’t be improved in some way through digital technologies.
That said, we can’t improve healthcare delivery by simply throwing digital technologies at the myriad of problems facing healthcare systems. There are challenges surrounding compatibility and interoperability, patient privacy and processes, and business, clinical, and operational intelligence. Technology must play a role in addressing these issues, and to be successful, any digital healthcare technology should be organized and developed around four organizing principles: Personalisation, Participation, Precision/Predictability, and Prevention. We call this the 4P Vision for digital healthcare. Let’s take a closer look at each to better understand how the healthcare industry should look to these principles to guide it into achieving both better patient and business outcomes.
Advances in a variety of areas of medicine and physiology have enabled us gain a far more complete picture of individuals’ health conditions. DNA testing, for example, gives us insights into genetic markers that help predict risk factors and identify treatments to chronic illness. By digitising personal health data, physicians can better track their patients’ health while also developing personalised treatments designed for an individual’s specific physiology.
The Internet has put a wealth of health data into patients’ pockets, enabling them to quickly and easily access detailed information that simply wasn’t available previously. As such, patients are more informed about their health than ever before. This has largely empowered patients to take far more active roles in seeking out health advice. Additionally, digital technologies have enabled providers to engage with patients in new ways. Nowhere is this truer than in the post-pandemic explosion of telehealth applications. Ultimately, the more participatory a healthcare system can be, the more empowered its patients will be. And that, we believe, will result in better health outcomes in the long term.
Precision and Predictions
In addition to having better, more specific patient data, we also now have access to significantly larger amounts of health data. Where hospitals or research clinics once gathered health data, they often kept it behind a wall, only sharing specifics in academic or medical journals. Today, however, we live in a networked society, where data is highly portable with institutions making their data more widely availablez to researchers. The result: Bigger data sets that cross geography and patient demographics. And with bigger data sets, we’re able to use artificial intelligence to identify and predict health trends with far greater accuracy. What’s more, AI can be trained to recognize potential health risks or conditions. The more data AI can analyse, the more accurate its predictions and identifications will be. This will eventually allow us to more accurately identify and limit the negative impact of widespread health issues—such as pandemics—while also leading to more preventative medicine (see below).
By following all of the above principles when developing and deploying digital technologies in healthcare, we can more easily achieve the holy grail of medicine: Prevention. Long seen as a method of reducing healthcare costs, preventative medicine can have a major impact on patient health and long-term health outcomes. From a digital technology standpoint, we can develop smarter healthcare systems that empowers both providers and patients with the tools they need to access preventative medicine, improving health while reducing costs to deliver treatment.