Year after year, technology continues to transform the world we live in. By 2021, we’ll have more people with access to mobile phones than to running water. From the palm of your hand, you can talk to loved ones halfway around the world, look up directions to wherever you need to go, order dinner or a ride to the airport, or earn a living accepting those ride requests.
Technology is evolving every part of our lives and delivering curated, instantaneous experiences – but its relationship with the health care industry is a little more complicated.
In 2019, consumers have come to expect all experiences to be convenient, fast and tailored to their needs – all of which the health care industry isn’t known for. But we’re making progress. Healthcare is moving towards a more human-centered experience with patients taking a more participatory role in shared decision-making of their own health. While technology will revolutionize healthcare, it isn’t – and shouldn’t – be the complete solution. In 2020, we will see more companies combine the best technology with the human touch to deliver health care experiences people want. Three major shifts in how we treat health care will help lead us there.
The Empowered Consumer
Inspired by personalized online shopping and mobile-friendly products from Amazon, Apple and Google, consumers have come to expect data-driven recommendations and bespoke experiences personalized to them by age, gender and cultural appropriateness. Demanding that healthcare is also easier, and seamless, our patients are now proactive health and wellbeing consumers. They desire more flexibility, transparency and participation in their health care decisions. Greater transparency will also make affordability an important consideration in quality measures as the industry is pushed to disclose costs and compete more for empowered consumers.
Data-Driven Decision Making
In the coming year, consumers will be generating an unprecedented amount of health data. With federal legislation opening up data sharing in 2020, we will see fresh ideas that leverage that data fully to offer integrated and human-centered care. Interoperability will allow us to connect more data points from disparate sources to power actionable insights. We can enrich consumers’ experiences with data from Apple Watches and Fitbits that track daily heart rate, exercise or sleep habits. From electronic health records to wearable devices to sequenced DNA, technology will continue to inspire a wave of digital health tool innovation, more competition and more informed healthcare decisions.
Recognizing that social determinants of health – where people live and the services available in their communities – impact a person’s wellbeing, we’ll have the ability to better track and integrate these factors into delivering personalized health care. We will be able to take into account health literacy, food, housing and education as factors for achieving your best health.
The Physician’s Changing Role
Physicians are evolving alongside their patients. Today’s practitioner is more data-driven than ever before, leveraging information to improve quality, experience and increase efficiency throughout the system. As new technologies are rapidly introduced, we need to help current practicing physicians and other health care professionals learn how to access and leverage actionable data. More importantly, we need to engage and educate the next generation of providers today. They need to understand how artificial intelligence and machine learning are influencing patients’ achievement of their own health goals combined with the evidence-based treatment recommended.
With data and technology also being cited by providers as a contributing factor to job dissatisfaction and burnout, we need to ensure the use of data-driven solutions support, not hinder, the patient-physician and allied health professional relationship, be it nurses, pharmacists or social workers. Our focus on the Quadruple Aim should allow us to improve our tools and data integration to enhance our patients’ lives and simultaneously our own joy and accomplishments in being a part of improving health care. Healthy physicians and allied health care professionals are a needed component of health care innovation and the delivery of data-driven solutions.
As the expectations for more seamless, human-centered care continue to grow, physicians will need to recognize the changing demographics of this country. Different segments of the population – from the growing elderly to Latino, Asian or African American – all use health care differently. Physicians in training need to understand how communities live, how it affects their health and access to care and incorporate those variables to deliver personalized solutions. These should be key components early on in medical education.
Ushering in simpler, more personalized and affordable care
2020 will be an extraordinary year for healthcare transformation – the future will be a simpler, more affordable health care experience powered by a tech-enabled team, providing the personalized guidance consumers demand and deserve. These shifts will open doors to new and different approaches to delivering care that puts the individual at the center. Health care will be fueled by an intense focus on improving the individual’s experience, led by demands for convenience and personalization.
The emerging model of anytime, anywhere care will become more established and commonplace. 2020 is the year we offer consumers and providers an experience powered by technology without sacrificing the human connection. We’ll need to look at data from a different lens and treat it as more than just medical history or a list of symptoms. Data will be the key to closing gaps in holistic care and improving outcomes over an individual’s lifespan. It’ll be the year we will see our industry open the door to a new way of delivering care, anytime, anywhere.