The pandemic accelerated the digital transformation plans for many companies, encouraging a move toward integrated and flexible solutions, automated processes and efficient operations. Healthcare has been impacted like no other industry. The pandemic created a surge in demand on our healthcare systems, overloading and exhausting resources and service providers alike.
Remote healthcare management is a blessing in this critical time, by sharing the load of the existing healthcare systems and allowing providers to support non-critical patients remotely thereby helping keep the hospitals available for critical needs. Even without crisis, transformation of healthcare with digital solutions provides seamless processes to improve experiences for patients, medical professionals, and other stakeholders involved in the treatment cycle. It also allows patients to choose and receive best available treatments from the multitude of options available.
Automated administrative and clinical processes have cut the wait times and made operations scalable. It allows for improved patient care delivered remotely. Improved collaboration and more efficient processes have resulted in optimized clinical services and reduction of costs.
New Capabilities for Remote Consultation and Diagnosis
The ability for healthcare providers to deliver digital care is transforming healthcare services. It enables a care management ecosystem built on a digital backbone and makes remote consultation services accessible to millions. The care management ecosystem is growing and changing rapidly. It is important to get acquainted with some of the important players.
Amwell is a U.S.-based digital platform that allows patients to search for doctors and hospitals, book appointments and conduct video-based remote consultation. It also connects patients with their insurance providers for details on their coverage of services. After the doctor prescribes medicines and tests, the patient gets notifications on delivery of medicines or can schedule a sample collection. The patient can later connect with their doctor to review reports and set up follow-up appointments if needed. And with the integration of a digital payment system, it can make the experience cashless or near cashless.
Tyto Care, an Israel-based medical device maker has created an ecosystem of connected tools for remote medical examinations that can replicate an in-person visit. They produce a digital stethoscope, for example, that allows users to examine patients’ ears, throat, skin, heart, lungs and temperature. The devices pair with smartphones to capture, store and share data via a cloud-based telehealth platform with video conferencing. Examinations are done in real time or in advance of a telehealth visit. It is accessible to patients anywhere in the world and optimizes time and resources for the healthcare service providers.
Amwell and Tytocare have recently partnered to combine video telehealth visits with comprehensive remote examinations for patients in the U.S.
Eyenuk in the U.S. has recently created the first FDA approved AI-based eye screening. EyeArt Autonomous AI System detects diabetic retinopathy by retinal imaging. This lowers the burden of the ophthalmologist, who can then serve in a supervisory role for diagnosis and treatment plans.
India has a shortage of skilled health professionals and a high penetration of smartphone users. A tele-healthcare company, Mfine has created a mobile "Cloud Clinic" app that makes hospitals accessible to millions with on-demand services available at lower costs. Patients can upload their medical records and receive consultations from a doctor of their choice. AI and machine learning help doctors with the prognosis and treatment plan. The app also gives professionals access to a large database of medical information about symptoms, disease ontologies, domain knowledge, literature and research data and creates a standard reference system for doctors in each specialty, powered by a combination of well-established medical protocols and the learning system's algorithms. It is a secure app with data encryption and two factor authentication.
Three Healthtech start-ups – Practo in India, Doctolib in France, Docplanner in Poland – have very successfully implemented apps for finding local doctors, specialists and hospitals. Integrated with appointment booking and payment systems, they make a doctors’ visit a convenient and cashless experience. They also store virtual medical records and provide platforms for remote consultations with doctors and other medical professionals.
To overcome language barriers, Qare is a startup offering health services to the French-speaking community abroad as a virtual medical practice, offering all the benefits of the French medical system with access to an exclusive network of medical professionals via a cloud-based healthcare software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform (HSP).
Advances in Remote Monitoring
Digital wearable devices capture large volumes of data and can be used to monitor vitals and shared with healthcare professionals for diagnostics. Wearable and portable devices simplify patient monitoring by monitoring patients’ heart rate, blood pressure, glucose level and oxygen level. It also can be useful in self-monitoring as these devices provide important information related to physical and emotional well-being.
A French medical software company MHComm has developed MHLink and MHComm, remote monitoring tools for hospitals, mainly targeted at patients who are sick but do not need to be hospitalized. The platform streamlines coordination via secure care pathways. A teleconsultation module with video is integrated into the platform. A care path is assigned to the patient with daily monitoring via an automated questionnaire with integrated alert criteria. Depending on the response, the patient can quickly be put in the urgent care queue if needed.
New Tools and Services for In-Home Healthcare
In certain situations, remote consultation does not suffice, and in-person care is required. HealthCare atHome (HCAH) in the U.K. and India provide at-home-hospitalization services. In India, HCAH even provides home-based intensive critical care services, cancer care and nursing care. Its integrated platform allows health care providers to interface with patients and deliver care in the home to reduce unnecessary emergency room visits, hospital stays and readmissions. By integrating insurance providers and payments systems to the platform, HCAH offers a cashless and paperless process flow.
Cloud-based communication interfaces allow patients, doctors and medical staff to collaborate and interact via instant messaging and voice for coordination and provision of healthcare services. At-home treatment also helps reduce the hospital overload.
Integration to existing healthcare networks is a challenge resolved by using a 100 percent web-based approach. This is what Teranga Software in France is doing – providing record keeping software that can be optimized for managing records for all types of care homes for senior citizens and people with disabilities. Notably, the company’s software is fully compatible with the country’s integrated electronic health records system Le Dossier Médical Partagé (DMP) and is certified as prescription assistance software by the des logiciels d'aide à la prescription (LAP). This is an idea that could be easily replicated in other countries with a public healthcare system like France.
A tech-enabled in-home healthcare provider DispatchHealth is enabling its users to request medical care by apps and websites. A medical team would arrive fully equipped with tools to provide both emergency care and internal medicine whether the patient just needs fluids or emergency heart care. Advanced or extended care needs would get referrals from a doctor and are tied-up with insurance companies.
An Indian health-tech player Portea provides at-home services for physio, nursing, doctors’ visits, medical equipment, lab tests and counselling on a cloud-based platform. It also collects prescriptions and conducts medication delivery from the pharmacy.
A California-based telemedicine startup Heal provides an Uber-like service for on-call physicians. It is working in partnership with a large insurance provider, allowing in-home care to its members. It is currently managing accelerated demand due to COVID-19 and has recently launched a virtual therapy service for patients in need of mental healthcare during the crisis. It has recently partnered with health insurance provider Humana for a $100 million investment that would extend at-home primary-care services to Humana members.
Health Technologies that Focus on Preventive Care
The main objective of healthcare is to treat patients and bring them back to health. What if it was possible to avoid the sickness altogether? Predictive algorithms based on data analysis determine cases where preventive care could be valuable. It could also be used for raising emergency alerts.
Predictive analysis based on intelligent algorithms is bringing new innovation and growth in the Healthcare sector. Although still in development, predictive analytics applied to genetic data analysis is being used to highlight the propensity of specific diseases.
More than 400 thousand consumers participated in a study in which they shared data from their Apple watch to detect atrial fibrillation. It was one of the largest studies ever conducted for preventive care. Based on the outcome, the physicians followed up and referred patients to emergency care, and where needed, followed standard monitoring protocols, thereby playing an important role in preventing potential future heart attacks.
Early detection of cancer remains a challenge to this day. Telehealth company Thrive is developing an early cancer detection technology called CancerSEEK and advocating that it be incorporated into routine medical care. Since early detection determines the probability of recovery, it could dramatically improve the recovery rate for cancer treatment.
Digital transformation is a complex process. Finding the right partners, solutions and service providers is critical to staying ahead of the rapid pace of change. ISG helps healthcare providers understand the evolving digital ecosystem so they can serve their patients now and in the future.
About the author
Neha Shrivastava is a Consulting Manager with ISG North America and has good knowledge of IT organization, processes and strategies. In her role, Neha works on consulting projects in the domain of IT sourcing (strategy, implementation, transition and transformation, benchmarking and contract evaluations etc.). She was earlier based in Paris with ISG France.