Two smart healthcare trends that are saving lives (and cutting costs)
By Doug Peeples, Smart Cities Council
Two trends are changing healthcare – and cities and their medical facilities should be prepared for them if they're to maintain a competitive edge. Both can greatly improve the quality of healthcare and its safety, enable patients to more actively participate in the care they receive, streamline the healthcare delivery system and do it for less money.
And keep in mind that quality healthcare is a service your citizens expect. It's also a very attractive asset for new and relocating businesses, and that can be a big plus for your city's economy.
1. Focus on people first
It may seem strange to say "Focus on people first." Medical care is about people, isn't it? Yes, but one major healthcare trend concentrates on getting patients actively engaged in managing their health and working with the physicians and technicians who treat them. So how do you do that?
As Frederick Muench, digital health intervention director for the Northwell Health Department of Psychiatry, put it in a Mobi Health News article, "Patient engagement is whatever the patient thinks it is. If we start at that point, work backward by figuring out the barriers and the fitting technology in, we're able to overcome those barriers and judge success as outcomes." And for that to happen, patients need to be able to manage their care in partnership with their physicians, clinicians and others involved in their treatment.
University of Chicago Medicine considers the patient experience in addition to patient engagement. Sue Murphy, chief experience and innovation officer for the center, describes engagement as the way patients work with their doctors and other care providers and patient experience is about the results of the treatment and the level of patient satisfaction.
Patient engagement is not a simple process and there isn't a lot of information available to guide physicians and clinicians in how to meaningfully achieve it. But the healthcare industry is betting big that putting patients in the driver's seat is the best way to ensure healthier citizens and better treatment and care.
While conceding that coordinating healthcare treatment has its challenges, Susan Wiemeyer, national managing director of Council Lead Partner Microsoft's U.S. Health and Life Sciences, explained, "The world is switching to be more patient-centric than system-centric."
2. Why you need to go wireless
One of the fastest transitions in health care is a move toward continuous home monitoring and an effort to bring care to patients rather than requiring them to travel long distances to see specialists. And that transition needs fast, high-capacity wireless networks. Just to illustrate: the global wireless health market is expected to grow from $39 billion in 2015 to $110 billion by 2020.
A combination of factors are fueling that growth, among them federal mandates requiring care providers to participate in a health information exchange and enhance patient engagement by giving them access to their health information, wireless health devices used by the elderly and chronic illness sufferers.
For a city's medical facilities, wireless health is expected to transform the traditional, paper-based health care systems into a technology-oriented one that concentrates on patient safety, speeds up workflows, cuts healthcare costs and helps providers comply with regulations.
And new wireless health systems and devices are being brought to market at a rapid pace. Tech companies like Council Lead Partners AT&T and Qualcomm are considered key players in the industry. Qualcomm and Philips announced this week a partnership to develop an Internet of Things ecosystem specifically for healthcare. QualcommLife also provides wireless systems for chronic disease management and medical information sharing. AT&T Healthcare offers a variety of mobility and security solutions as well as networks and more.
Doug Peeples writes about technology and energy for the Smart Cities Council. The Council publishes the free Smart Cities Readiness Guide, which provides help and advice for crafting a smart cities vision, plan of action and method of tracking progress.