In my conversations with healthcare organization CIOs and leaders in the US and indeed across the globe, I have often been asked, “What should be the desired target state of digitized healthcare? How does CSC envision the road to digitized, paperless healthcare delivery?”
They are talking about healthcare delivery in which a patient’s access to care and a provider’s secure access to that patient’s federated Electronic Health Record are enabled and enhanced. So, as global CTO of CSC’s healthcare solutions, I decided to organize my thoughts around this issue and provide some insight on the topic.
Ecosystems are the new bedrock of digital healthcare. From a technology perspective, the digital health ecosystem is made possible by a layered series of systems that collect, filter, analyze, link and present data in a continuously improving level of refinement and value. Digital ecosystems focus on providing actionable information to clinicians, but they often struggle with legacy systems and organizational structures that impede data integration.
In my view, the solution is an open data digital services platform that hosts healthcare data (physically or virtually) and optimizes secure and appropriate data access. At the heart of this are open APIs, patient-centric workflows, data insight platform technologies that increase the effectiveness of information delivery, and common IT services for identity, access and consent management.
Platforms provide the underlying technology that can make healthcare experiences more connected. More than ever before, platforms can link the entire healthcare ecosystem, from patients to providers to health plans. Imagine a future when healthcare consumers will go to one central place to shop for quality and price, book an appointment, check their electronic medical record or pay an out-of-pocket expense. Providers will track a patient’s activity from hospital to home. Upon discharge, data from a patient’s blood pressure monitor, electronic scale, glucometer, wearables and other IoT-enabled devices, coupled with analytics and systems of insight, could indicate a pending complication and give providers ample time to take corrective action. Platforms can even support healthier lifestyles among consumers, helping reduce out-of-pocket costs.
But what are the layers of this healthcare ecosystem that are connected via a robust digital platform?
Powering the Ecosystem
From a technology perspective, the digital health vision is made possible by a layered series of systems that collect, filter, analyze, link and present data in a growing degree of refinement and value. These systems perform the following:
- Discover, maintain and improve patient health status and reduce the cost of care across the continuum.
- Provide surveillance capability that recognizes patterns in patient and care data that can be used to improve health outcomes.
- Enable integrated patient engagement and address patient preventive and chronic care needs.
Let’s explore them in a bit more detail.
At the lowest level reside Systems of Record. These systems are responsible for integrating structured and unstructured datasets from multiple sources, semantically linked and curated for upstream value. Feeds to upstream systems are augmented with an API marketplace services framework that enables mash-ups of other datasets.
Systems of Insight, fed with data from systems of record, provide a surveillance capability that recognizes patterns in population data and care management characteristics. These systems can identify impending high-risk clinical events, gaps in care coordination, and deficiencies in healthcare provisioning.
At the highest level are Systems of Engagement. This layer describes a large portfolio of clinical and business process services that support patients, providers and care coordinators via integrated and collaborative services.
Together, these systems can provide contextualized, just-in-time information at the point of care and when decisions need to be made that will enable improved patient outcomes and value.
This digital health platform can serve as the basis for an ecosystem of services provided by third parties and steered by respective health systems. The approach can revolutionize care and delivery, help bend the cost curve and usher in an era of contextualized information that is at times referred to as Healthcare 3.0.
Benefits of Cloud Platforms
Evidence of the potential can be seen in the way many healthcare providers are moving to hybrid cloud environments and are choosing platforms (such as cloud-based telemedicine, care management, care coordination, analytics) that naturally have better information access properties. This can cut latency to end clients and minimize the time it takes to interact and collaborate. Furthermore, platforms make previously difficult-to-access services more mainstream. Take, for instance, leading health plans that are making wellness programs available to the population because platforms make it easy and cost-effective to scale such offerings and integrate them into existing experiences.
These cloud-enabled platforms also offer an elastic capability to scale up and down with demand. And they bring rich information together and deliver it, cheaply, to the end user. Pivoting to cloud-based solutions also provides business advantages, not only in operating costs but also in the operating model, getting the right data at the right time to the fingertips of the end user.
Thus, Healthcare 3.0 focuses on the open data digital services platform-driven healthcare economy. By using technology and automation for every aspect of healthcare management, provider and payer organizations will be able to deliver higher quality care to patients in an efficient and sustainable manner. Patients and caregivers will more readily collaborate with one another while the coordination of care amongst caregivers will be improved.
As a result, the transition from volume to value will be smoother, and organizations will have a powerful tool that gives them a much better chance of yielding the results all healthcare providers desire for their patients and their practices.
Read more in the white paper, The Shift to Digital Health and the Era of Healthcare 3.0.
Femi Ladega is the chief technology officer for CSC’s Healthcare and Life Sciences global industry group. With experience delivering major transformation engagements to private, public and international organizations in Europe, America, Middle East, Australia and the United Kingdom, Femi provides leadership for driving the solution strategy and technology direction for the industry group. Connect with him on LinkedIn.