In late October in Boston, Mass., the top minds in healthcare and technology came together at the Connected Health Conference to envision how connected healthcare will transform patient care and the systems used to deliver it, making remote care the standard of care. And right after the conference, as if on cue, Medicare published new reimbursement rules for 2018 that promise to greatly accelerate adoption of effective remote care models.
An increasingly connected world is fueling industries from manufacturing to entertainment with the enormous benefits of merging data with technology, thus enabling end-user interaction in better and more personal ways than ever before. Healthcare is no exception. What the Connected Health Conference demonstrated is that we are at a rare inflection point. Healthcare stakeholders are aligned, aided by the indisputable evidence in efficacy, and with technological breakthrough already underway, the remote care revolution is imminent, set to improve patient access and patient outcomes, while creating efficiencies and lowering costs.
Distributing the Delivery of Care
Similar to the sea change that occurred in care delivery with the establishment of the institutional hospital system in the 1800s, the path to transformation today lies in taking patient care from the most expensive place, the hospital, to the least expensive, like a person’s residence. In fact, today’s most dramatic improvements in outcomes—both for the patient and for the system at large—result from the use of some form of remote care, the need and benefit for which has already been widely researched and documented in the industry.
One of the biggest problems we face in healthcare today—aside from prohibitive costs and lack of universal access—is the absence of a cohesive data ecosystem that fuses insights seamlessly into assisting the clinician workflow. Healthcare data today flows through numerous disparate channels that don’t speak to each other. As many industry experts agree, we need to build a dataflow ecosystem into the collaborative workflow of care teams, patients and family simultaneously. Giving people this greater access to their care group through clear, efficient data gathered by the devices they already use will not only improve the quality of care, but it can eliminate unnecessary hospital readmissions and provide a reliable, proactive, and connected continuum of care. This will truly rival the revolutionary changes brought about by the first hospital system two centuries ago.
A Vision for Remote Care
Intel Health Application Platform (HAP) is a new category of technology architected to aid the transformation to remote care. When coupled with the Intel-architecture-based design specification implemented by Flex, this software can help enable healthcare solution providers to securely and reliably deliver distributed healthcare services across an always-connected and ever-expanding healthcare edge and to any cloud. When combined with the Flex IoT Compute Engine, the Intel HAP can empower the healthcare industry to develop novel and exciting products and services at the edge with enterprise-grade stability, security, and longevity.
With Intel HAP, solution providers are working to usher in this new age where devices and data are connected regardless of the environment or records that are used, information can be delivered privately and securely to patient and provider, and adverse health events can be avoided rather than responded to.
At the conference, I was also delighted to once again spend some time with Dr. Clayton Christensen, a Harvard professor and one of the world’s top experts on innovation and growth, in discussion of the shared belief that technology and healthcare will merge but only when innovators create the new business models that enable remote patient care in the first place.
Indeed, in order to overcome the barriers to remote care adoption, we need a shift in provider and consumer behavior, a change in the economic model, and to ensure access to technology. Hospitals are already innovating and deploying new models, and better business and health outcomes are happening, helping more people live healthier lives. The road ahead will require not just technologies like IoT, but also new legislation and reimbursement frameworks, so that the technological progress can be sustained by a business model that enables doctors and patients to embrace remote care as a new medical standard of care.